What is Ketamine Therapy?

Find out if you should ask your psychiatrist in Towson, MD about using ketamine to treat major depression

If you are struggling with depression, it is likely that you are looking for ways to ease the debilitating symptoms depression causes. For those suffering from major depression, there is a new treatment method that may help many individuals — ketamine. If you have already been through several options to treat depression, it is possible that a psychiatrist in Towson, MD suggested ketamine therapy as a form of treatment. Ketamine has been used by medical professionals since the 1960s as an anaesthetic, though it has not been until recently that ketamine therapy has been considered to treat mood disorders. 

Research supporting ketamine’s beneficial effects on mood disorders has been well documented over the last few decades, and many patients have found success using ketamine therapy to treat their symptoms. If you are suffering from major depression or another debilitating mood disorder, you may want to ask your local psychiatrist about ketamine therapy.

What is ketamine?

Your psychiatrist in Towson, MD can help you learn more about what ketamine is and how it affects the brain

brain scans doctor pointing black and white MRI
Only your local psychiatrist can determine if ketamine therapy is right for you.

Ketamine is currently approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use as anesthesia. However, ketamine is also recently being used in smaller doses to treat severe mood disorders. Ketamine is unique in that it does not have any physically addictive properties, like some other medications. When ketamine is administered by a medical professional in controlled circumstances, it can regenerate damaged neurons that may be causing symptoms of major depression. Your local psychiatrist in Towson, MD can help you learn more about how ketamine interacts with your personal brain chemistry.

How can ketamine help treat symptoms of major depression?

Ketamine works differently than most major depression treatments

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Major depression differs from regular depression because if it’s severity.

Now that we know what ketamine is, it's time to explore how it is used to treat severe mood disorders. In many cases, people suffering with symptoms of mood disorders have tried traditional methods to combat their symptoms. Ketamine is for those that have exhausted efforts like therapy or antidepressants to treat depression. If you feel you have reached this point in your care, reach out to your local psychiatrist  to talk about pursuing ketamine therapy.

Studies show that ketamine therapy begins to work as the drug leaves your body, as opposed to standard antidepressants that only work while they are absorbed.

Some of the disorders that can be helped by ketamine therapy include:

  • Depression
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Major Depression
  • Postpartum Depression
  • Suicidal Ideation Treatment
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
  • Severe Anxiety

Scientists are not exactly sure how ketamine treats depression because it works so differently from other common treatment methods for the disorders listed above. This is why it is generally considered to be a last resort for individuals that are unable to manage their symptoms.

It is thought that ketamine binds the NMDA receptors in the brain, increasing an individual's glutamate levels. After this, glutamate receptors activate another receptor called the AMPA receptor. This interaction is thought to improve connection between synapses in the brain and improve mood and cognition. It is very likely that ketamine works in several different ways to help treat symptoms of depression, though there is a lot still unknown.

What does ketamine treatment look like?

Know what to expect if you decide to pursue treatment

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A psychiatrist is able to determine which method of ketamine therapy is best to treat your symptoms.

Now that we know what ketamine is and a bit about how it can help treat symptoms of severe mood disorders, let’s explore what ketamine therapy actually looks like. There are two common types of ketamine treatment that are currently being used by mental health professionals. The first method involves administering ketamine intravenously. Commonly referred to as ketamine infusion, it is used by many mental health professionals though it has not yet been formally approved as a treatment for mood disorders. Most research regarding the positive effects of ketamine therapy has come from patients who have undergone ketamine infusions.

The second type of ketamine treatment is called Esketamine or Spravato, which has recently been approved by the FDA and is administered as a nasal spray. Both types of ketamine therapy affect the brain differently, so medical professionals are not yet sure which one is more effective.

What are the benefits of ketamine therapy?

In severe cases, ketamine therapy can relieve symptoms of depression

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There are still undiscovered benefits of ketamine therapy.

Many people walk around every day with symptoms of depression that are untreated or undertreated. If you are experiencing symptoms of a mood disorder, the first step is to find a Towson psychiatrist and seek a diagnosis. For those who have been struggling despite consistent help from a psychiatrist, ketamine therapy may be one of the few treatment options left to try. Let’s go over some of the benefits of ketamine therapy for those with major depression or suicidal ideation.

  • Quick Relief - Effects of ketamine therapy take effect almost immediately after the treatment is complete.
  • Reliability -  Though ketamine therapy is still a relatively new treatment method for mood disorders, studies show that nearly half of patients experienced relief from negative symptoms.
  • Lasting Effects - Unlike an antidepressant that you might take every day, after a round of ketamine therapy, relief can last for months after a treatment cycle.

Are there any side effects of ketamine therapy?

Ask your doctor about potential side effects before beginning ketamine treatment

man distressed working research laptop white shirt office
It is important to consider if the side effects of a drug will be more harmful than helpful to you.

As with any drug, ketamine therapy does have some side effects. For some individuals seeking help with major mood disorders, the side effects are not worth the risk. However, when a patient is experiencing suicidal ideation, they may be willing to risk some side effects to alleviate their symptoms. The following are common side effects associated with ketamine therapy:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle spasms
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Trouble sleeping
  • High blood pressure

If you are considering ketamine therapy but are concerned about the side effects you can always ask your psychiatrist for advice on pursuing treatment.

Though ketamine therapy is new to many mental health professionals, the results on patients with major mood disorders look promising. It is always recommended to talk to a local psychiatrist in Towson, MD if you are considering ketamine therapy. Remember, ketamine therapy is usually only used for those with severe symptoms. If you would like to explore the possibilities of ketamine therapy or are in need of additional help managing your mental health, you can contact The Psych Associates of Maryland and schedule an appointment with a licensed professional.


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