During the past few years there has been a significant demand for the drug ketamine to treat both mental health and certain chronic pain conditions.
What is ketamine?
Ketamine’s primary purpose as an anesthetic has been used for decades in hospitals, emergency rooms and in emergency response situations worldwide. Ketamine (Ketalar) was first approved in 1970 by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as a sole anesthetic agent for diagnostic and surgical procedures.
In 1985, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared ketamine an essential medication due to its worldwide accessibility and low cost.
Ketamine is considered a safer drug, having relatively less respiratory and cardiovascular depressive effects, therefore making it an attractive option in ambulatory and battlefield anesthesia.
However, ketamine’s psychodysleptic (hallucinogenic) effects had caused it to fall out of favor in the 1980s. In the 1990s, there was a renewed interest in ketamine as an adjuvant analgesic after the discovery of its anti-tolerant and anti-hyperalgesia effects.
Ketamine has recently emerged as a promising mental health treatment. Unlike antidepressants, which work by increasing serotonin levels, ketamine impacts the neurotransmitter glutamate which plays a role in regulating both mood and pain. Ketamine is being used to treat the following medical conditions:
- Depression, including treatment resistant depression
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Postpartum Depression
- Geriatric and Adolescent Mental Health Conditions
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Neuropathic Pain
- Nerve Pain
- Migraine Headache
- Pain that has been unresponsive to other treatment
Ketamine is being actively studied for potential use in mental health, acute and chronic pain conditions, especially where pain management is difficult with conventional treatments like opioids.
IV ketamine therapy
Over the last decade, and again supported by ongoing research, IV ketamine therapy is now widely used as an alternative mental health treatment as depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting more than 300 million people of all ages. It is reported that 30% of people with depression will struggle to find a treatment that works, known as treatment resistant depression. Ketamine is a promising and hopeful treatment for this group.
In addition, patients that suffer from certain chronic pain syndromes such as complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) fail most conventional treatments and once again, ketamine has been shown in multiple clinical trials to be an effective treatment for these patients.
At-home ketamine treatment
Recent advances have made it possible to receive at-home ketamine treatments both orally and via nasal spray for multiple medical conditions. Ketamine can provide much faster relief unlike traditional medication, which can take several weeks before they begin working. Patients receiving at-home ketamine treatment are closely followed and under the ongoing care of a mental health professional, or a pain management provider.
Overall, ketamine’s usefulness for all these conditions has increased dramatically because of its effectiveness in reducing symptoms quickly. Many patients report symptom-relief after just a few treatments.
Ketamine therapy has been life-changing for many patients and their families.
For more information and to follow the supportive efforts for ketamine research visit: ketaminetaskforce.org