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Ketamine Infusions for Depression and Psychedelic Assisted Psychotherapy – Ketamine and psilocybin therapy | Northern Virginia Ketamine Infusion Center

NOVA Health Recovery Ketamine Infusion Center offers Ketamine infusions for Depression, Anxiety, PTSD, Chronic pain. We use intravenous and oral ketamine along with ketamine assisted psychotherapy (KAP) to treat multiple mood disorders. Northern Virginia Ketamine | Contact us below by email and leave your phone number as well, or call 703-844-0184 for an immediate appointment. 

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Recently, the United Kingdom has opened the first centers for psychedelic therapy for depression. Awakn Life is the name of the psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy center and is providing psychedelics to treat mood disorders and addictions. A recent article in the Guardian addressed the state of psychedelics in the U.K. where more permissive laws have enabled more productive research into psychedelic use in depression and addictions. The traditional psychiatric approach of FDA approved medications results in poor outcomes with addiction still remaining a significant cause of morbidity and over 1/3 of patients with depression failing multiple courses of medications. Talk therapy is effective in 50% of patients. In fact, if you see a psychiatrist at the age of twenty, you will still be his patient at the age of sixty in all likelihood.  

Psilocybins can be grown with home kits ordered online. Although illegal in many areas of the United States, many people have tried to use ‘magic mushrooms’ to heal their depressed or inflamed brain. Studies demonstrate the efficacy of 10-25 mg of psylocibins with talk therapy as being effective for depression for up to 6 months. Currently, psilocybin therapy is being studied in the United States and has been given a break-through status with the FDA. A study of 24 patients at Johns Hopkins demonstrated a significant improvement in treatment resistant depression in 70% of patients that lasted 4 weeks. 

Ketamine is currently available and FDA approved as a nasal spray Esketamine. Ketamine, in the form of infusions, is being used in centers throughout the United States and has demonstrated significant efficacy for TRD in studies dating back to 2000 and 2006. Continued studies have shown its effect in Bipolar depression and suicidality. Intravenous forms of ketamine are more reliable and rapid, yet other formulations can be effective, including nasal sprays and oral formulations. Chronic suicidality has been successfully treated with low-dose oral ketamine in one study in which weekly doses of oral ketamine at doses of 0.5 mg/kg up to 3 mg/kg were administered. Other studies of oral therapies for depression have demonstrated efficacy as well.  The effects of ketamine infusions have been found to be potentially more effective as a series of six infusions and then can be maintained effectively with home-based oral and nasal spray therapies, intermittent infusions, and medications such as D-cycloserine

Ketamine and psychedelic therapy represent a potentially more effective and rapid treatment of depression and mood disorders. Contact NOVA Health Recovery Ketamine Infusion Center in Alexandria, Virginia for more information on ketamine treatments that include infusions, oral ketamine, and home-based ketamine support for depression, anxiety, PTSD, Bipolar disorder, and pain.  

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NOVA Health Recovery is a Ketamine Treatment Center in Fairfax, Virginia (Northern Virginia Ketamine) that specializes in the treatment of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, and chronic pain such as CRPS, cluster headaches, and fibromyalgia using Ketamine therapies, both infusion and home-based ketamine nasal spray and oral tablets. We also offer addiction treatment services with Suboxone, Vivitrol, and Sublocade therapies for opiate addiction as well as alcohol treatment regimens. Contact us at 703-844-0184 or at this link: NOVA Health Recovery Ketamine Infusion Center Near me Ketamine Infusion 

Ketamine Provider | Ketamine near me | Psychedelic assisted therapy | Mushrooms | Ketamine assisted psychotherapy | Ketamine psychedelic therapy | KAP | K hole | New depression Treatments | Areas we serve: 

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Ketamine infusions for depression | Depression scoring | Inflammation and brain shrinkage from depression – why you should worry | NOVA Health Recovery Ketamine Infusion Center Fairfax, Virginia 22304

NOVA Health Recovery Ketamine Infusion Center

Contact us by phone at 703-844-0184 or email us below for more information or to schedule:

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Depression may be, in part, a chemical imbalance in the brain, such as aberrant serotonin (‘the happy neurotransmitter) or dopamine (the molecule of reward) levels. However, depression can be initiated at several levels, including the gut, due to alterations in the gut microbiome and general inflammation. It has been found that elevated markers of inflammation, such as C-reactive protein (CRP) and Interleukin-6 (IL-6) can be markers of and lead to increased depression. These markers rise in stress, obesity, general medical illness, and from gut dysbiosis (poor microbial health in the gut) to name a few. This can lead to brain fog, poor motivation, difficulty with concentration, memory loss, difficulty making decisions (executive functioning), poor processing speed, and even weight gain.  

Over 7 % of the nation suffers from depression – that is about 16.1 million people, per the National Institutes of Mental Health. Women are twice as likely to be depressed as are men. Some of this may be due to hormonal imbalances. The chance of women becoming depressed in their lifetime is 21-45 % while it is 10-30% for men. 

There are multiple causes for depression, which include stress, poor nutrition, genetics, medications, general medical illness, obesity, lack of exercise, poor sleep, drugs and alcohol, leaky gut, hormonal imbalances, inflammation, and several other factors.  

We frequently assess depression by using the basic PHQ-9 – the physicians health questionnaire that is 9 questions based on a scale of 0-3. The questions are based on the last two weeks of feelings: Link to a PHQ calculator 

1.Little interest or pleasure in doing things 

2.Feeling down, depressed or hopeless 

3.Trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, or sleeping too much 

4.Feeling tired or having little energy 

5.Poor appetite or overeating 

6.Feeling bad about yourself – or that you’re a failure or have let yourself or your family down 

7.Trouble concentrating on things, such as reading the newspaper or watching television 

8.Moving or speaking so slowly that other people could have noticed. Or the opposite – being so fidgety or restless that you have been moving around a lot more than usual 

9.Thoughts that you would be better off dead or of hurting yourself in some way 

These are scored on a scale of 0-3: 

0 – for not at all 

1- For several days in the past two weeks 

2- For more than half the days 

3–  For nearly every day. 

The score results are graded as the following: 

Score Depression Severity Treatment 
0 – 4 None-minimal None 
5 – 9 Mild Watchful waiting; repeat PHQ-9 at follow-up 
10 – 14 Moderate Treatment plan, considering counseling, follow-up and/or pharmacotherapy 
15 – 19 Moderately Severe Active treatment with pharmacotherapy and/or psychotherapy 
20 – 27 Severe Immediate initiation of pharmacotherapy and, if severe impairment or poor response to therapy, expedited referral to a mental health specialist for psychotherapy and/or collaborative management 

The importance of treating depression is several fold. One is to get you feeling better. Many patients will eat excessively and gain weight to comfort themselves. Excess adipose tissue results in inflammation in the brain that leads to further depression and cognitive deficits. Others may resort to self-medication with alcohol or opioids that leads to addiction. In other cases, the person may continue a downward spiral in both their personal life, with family discord and personal unfulfillment, as well as work-related loss, such as absenteeism and presenteeism (showing up but not doing their job). The ability to concentrate and focus is much worse when depression sets in. In fact, depression has been found to physically decrease the size of the hippocampus on MRI(the memory center of the brain) as well as the prefrontal cortex (involved with decision-making and executive functioning).  See the following general mainstream article: Chronic Depression Shrinks the Brain’s Memories and Emotions  (ENIGMA research) .  

An individual who is depressed and sitting in a room will continue to have their hippocampus and prefrontal cortex shrink due to depression and the inflammation that results. Such individuals will have difficult with memory, emotional regulation, processing speed, and decision-making. Aggressive treatment for depression should be sought as it is possible to regenerate these vital areas of the brain with treatment, such as Ketamine therapy and lifestyle interventions like exercise and nutrition. Concerning nutritionhigh adherence to dietary recommendations, anti-inflammatory diet, fish consumption, exclusion of processed foods, and adequate intake of folic acid, magnesium different fatty acids, were associated with a reduced risk of mental illness. Suggestions for nutritional changes can be found at nutritionfactshealthyplacenutritionkits, and everydayhealth as a few options for ideas. 

Ketamine therapy, as a series of infusions, demonstrates rapid reversal of depression and suicidality. It is an anti-inflammatory agent that increases Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF) to increase neuroplasticity and allows the formation of new connections in the brain. This decreases depression and can be seen on MRI’s to increase the volume and functioning of the hippocampus (memory center). We will discuss more information regarding ketamine therapies in upcoming articles. Refer to NOVA Health Recovery for more information as well. 

Structural changes in the hippocampus in major depressive disorder: contributions of disease and treatment  

J Psychiatry Neurosci. 2010 Sep; 35(5): 337–343.doi: 10.1503/jpn.100002 

Redlich, R., Opel, N., Bürger, C. et al. The Limbic System in Youth Depression: Brain Structural and Functional Alterations in Adolescent In-patients with Severe Depression. Neuropsychopharmacol. 43, 546–554 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/npp.2017.246 

Hippocampal Volume and Depression: A Meta-Analysis of MRI Studies  

Jacka, F.N., Cherbuin, N., Anstey, K.J. et al. Western diet is associated with a smaller hippocampus: a longitudinal investigation. BMC Med 13, 215 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12916-015-0461-x 

Gujral S, Aizenstein H, Reynolds CF 3rd, Butters MA, Erickson KI. Exercise effects on depression: Possible neural mechanisms. Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2017 Nov;49:2-10. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2017.04.012. PMID: 29122145; PMCID: PMC6437683

Evidence of the Importance of Dietary Habits Regarding Depressive Symptoms and Depression Ljungberg T, Bondza E, Lethin C. Evidence of the Importance of Dietary Habits Regarding Depressive Symptoms and Depression. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020;17(5):1616. Published 2020 Mar 2. doi:10.3390/ijerph17051616 

Huang Q, Liu H, Suzuki K, Ma S, Liu C. Linking What We Eat to Our Mood: A Review of Diet, Dietary Antioxidants, and Depression. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;8(9):376. Published 2019 Sep 5. doi:10.3390/antiox8090376 

Koebnick C, Black MH, Wu J, et al. A diet high in sugar-sweetened beverage and low in fruits and vegetables is associated with adiposity and a pro-inflammatory adipokine profile. Br J Nutr. 2018;120(11):1230-1239. doi:10.1017/S0007114518002726 

Vermeulen E, Stronks K, Snijder MB, Schene AH, Lok A, de Vries JH, Visser M, Brouwer IA, Nicolaou M. A combined high-sugar and high-saturated-fat dietary pattern is associated with more depressive symptoms in a multi-ethnic population: the HELIUS (Healthy Life in an Urban Setting) study. Public Health Nutr. 2017 Sep;20(13):2374-2382. doi: 10.1017/S1368980017001550. Epub 2017 Jul 20. PMID: 28724468. 

Opie RS, Itsiopoulos C, Parletta N, Sanchez-Villegas A, Akbaraly TN, Ruusunen A, Jacka FN. Dietary recommendations for the prevention of depression. Nutr Neurosci. 2017 Apr;20(3):161-171. doi: 10.1179/1476830515Y.0000000043. Epub 2016 Mar 2. PMID: 26317148. 

Depression Nutrition Fact Sheet  

Healthy Eating and depression 

Eating your way to recovery in depression 

Food For the Brain 

Ketamine and its effects on the brain and mental health 

Zhou, Y., Wu, F., Liu, W. et al. Volumetric changes in subcortical structures following repeated ketamine treatment in patients with major depressive disorder: a longitudinal analysis. Transl Psychiatry 10, 264 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41398-020-00945-9  

Ionescu DF, Felicione JM, Gosai A, et al. Ketamine-Associated Brain Changes: A Review of the Neuroimaging Literature. Harv Rev Psychiatry. 2018;26(6):320-339. doi:10.1097/HRP.0000000000000179 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264794534_Hippocampal_Volume_And_The_Rapid_Antidepressant_Effect_Of_Ketamine

Prefrontal Cortex Connectivity and BDNF Fluctuations May Play a Role in Ketamine Mechanism of Action 

Corriger A, Pickering G. Ketamine and depression: a narrative review. Drug Des Devel Ther. 2019;13:3051-3067. Published 2019 Aug 27. doi:10.2147/DDDT.S221437 

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Ketamine Infusions for alcohol abuse | 703-844-0184 | Northern Virginia Ketamine Infusion Center | Fairfax Ketamine for depression, PTSD, Anxiety | Virginia Center for Ketamine Infusion | 703-844-0184 | Alcohol treatment

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If you would like a consultation for Ketamine for alcoholism treatment in Virginia, call 703-844-0184 or email Northern Virginia Ketamine Infusion Center

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Ketamine may treat harmful drinking behavior by ‘rewriting drinking memories,’ researchers say

(CNN)A single dose of ketamine may be able to curb harmful drinking behavior by “rewriting drinking memories,” according to a study published Tuesday in the journal Nature Communications.The researchers say that, when coupled with an exercise involving beer that pulls memories of alcohol to the foreground, there’s evidence that the drug can disrupt how the brain associates these cues — like the smell or taste of beer — to its perceived “reward,” making relapse less likely.”It’s those kinds of associations that we’re trying to break down,” explained study author Ravi Das, an associate professor at University College London who specializes in psychopharmacology. “We’re not talking about people’s explicit recollection of the fact that they drank in the past.” FDA approves ketamine-like nasal spray for depressionKetamine is a powerful medication used in hospitals primarily as an anesthetic, though it has also been used illegally as a club drug, often referred to as Special K. It generates an intense high and dissociative effects.  “It’s an intriguing approach that builds on existing literature in a couple of areas,” said Dr. Henry Kranzler, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine, who was not involved in the study.Earlier studies have explored ketamine for alcohol, cocaine and opioid addiction — but many had small sample sizes, limited follow-up and lack of placebo, according to experts. Das said it’s also difficult to blind participants to whether they’ve received ketamine or a placebo because of its “strong effects.”Other research has shown the drug’s potential to counter depression and suicidal ideation. In March, a close relative of ketamine — called esketamine and sold under the name Spravato in the form of a nasal spray — was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for treatment-resistant depression.The new study recruited 90 “beer-preferring” people with potentially harmful drinking patterns from internet ads and separated them into groups: those who underwent an exercise involving alcohol-related cues and received intravenous ketamine in a controlled environment; those who completed the exercise but received a placebo; and those who received ketamine alone. While the authors said participants “showed a clearly harmful and problematic pattern of drinking,” they were not seeking treatment for an alcohol use disorder and had not been formally diagnosed with such.  But there was some heterogeneity between the groups. While the first group reduced their drinking to the largest degree, they also happened to drink more to begin with — “and therefore their consumption was more likely to decline, a phenomenon known as regression to the mean,” explained Matt Field, a professor of psychology at the University of Sheffield in the UK, in an emailed statement.After the treatment, there wasn’t a significant difference between the three groups in terms of how much alcohol they drank. Nine months later, average weekly consumption was roughly the same across the board. The authors say this may have been influenced by losing participants to follow-up.Field said the findings are “promising,” but the claim that the full treatment protocol “leads to ‘unprecedented’ long-lasting reductions in alcohol consumption are not justified on the basis of this data.”Das pointed out other layers to the data, however: Those who completed the exercise and received ketamine had less desire to drink, and they drank less frequently. In addition, there was a correlation among that group between concentrations of ketamine and its breakdown products in the blood, and the reduction in how much participants drank.”People all vary in how quickly they metabolize” and excrete ketamine and its byproducts, Das said. “That level of individual variability with ketamine actually predicts drinking outcomes subsequently.” 

The group that received ketamine alone saw improvements, too, but not to the same degree as those presented with alcohol-related cues, according to the authors.Kranzler said the study is an intriguiguing proof-of-principle that he suspects will spur subsequent studies needed to replicated these findings.But an important question, he added, “is to what degree could combined psychosocial intervention — cognitive behavioral intervention, for example — synergize with or at least augment the pharmacological effect” of ketamine.”That’s the kind of treatment study that I think would make a lot of sense,” he added. “So this wouldn’t be used in isolation.”

Email NOVA Health Ketamine for an appointment for alcohol treatment with Ketamine:  703-844-0184

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A dose of ketamine could lessen the lure of alcohol

The hallucinogenic drug may help treat addiction by weakening past memories of drinking

Ketamine can reduce harmful drinking by pharmacologically rewriting drinking memories

A single dose of ketamine may cut down problematic drinking. Taken in the right context, the hallucinogenic drug may be able to weaken the pull of the cues that trigger people to drink beer, researchers report November 26 in Nature Communications.

Ketamine’s influence on people’s drinking was modest. Still, the results might be a time when “small effects tell a big story,” says addiction researcher David Epstein of the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore. “If a seemingly small one-time experience in a lab produces any effects that are detectable later in real life, the data are probably pointing toward something important.”

The study hinges on the idea that addiction, in a way, is a memory disorder. People learn to associate a drug or alcohol with the good feelings it brings. Cues in the world, such as the smell or picture of a beer, can trigger those memories — and cravings. “We’re trying to break down those memories to stop that process from happening, and to stop people from relapsing,” says study coauthor Ravi Das, a psychopharmacologist at University College London.

Ketamine is an anesthetic, that at lower doses, has also shown promise as a treatment for severe depression (SN: 3/21/19). The drug can also affect memories. One of ketamine’s effects in the body is to interfere with a molecule called NMDA, which is involved in reforming memories after they are called up.

Das and his colleagues recruited 90 people who said they drank too much beer, though none was formally diagnosed with alcohol addiction. First, participants were exposed to pictures of beer and even got to drink one in the lab. During the experience, they rated their beer cravings, enjoyment of drinking, and after the beer was gone, the desire to have another one.

A few days later, the participants returned to the lab and were split into three groups. People in one group were again shown pictures of beer to jog their memories. To make the memory recall extra strong, the researchers served up actual beer, but then, in a twist, took it away before participants could drink it. The bait-and-switch maneuver was key, Das says. “You have to generate the element of surprise,” he says.

As a comparison, a second group was shown images of orange juice instead of beer. Then people in both of these groups got an intravenous dose of ketamine. A third group had beer memories called up, but received no ketamine.

A week after the procedure, the people who had their beer memories jogged before receiving ketamine reported less desire to drink, and less enjoyment of beer — a reduction that wasn’t as strong for the other two groups of participants. The people who had their beer-drinking memories jogged and received ketamine also reported drinking less.

The results were surprising, Das says, because attempts to curb people’s drinking in their daily lives are rarely successful (SN: 8/9/17). “You get jaded. Not a lot seems to work,” he says.

Nine months after the procedure, all of the participants, including those who hadn’t received ketamine, had roughly halved their beer drinking — an across-the-board drop that could be explained by the self-awareness that comes simply from enrolling in a study, says Epstein. “Behavior can change for all sorts of reasons that aren’t specific to the experimental treatment,” he says. The interesting thing here, he says, is the initial decline in drinking among people who had ketamine while they were reminded of beer.

More research is needed to confirm ketamine’s short-term effect on drinking, and see how long it might last. Das and his colleagues plan on testing ketamine on more people with problematic drinking habits in clinical trials. The researchers are also trying to weaken other sorts of problematic memories, such as those involved in post-traumatic stress disorder.

As a drug that can be abused, ketamine comes with baggage that may make people reluctant to see it as a way to treat addictions. But if a single dose of ketamine can slow excessive drinking, “then that’s quite an easy trade-off from a health perspective,” Das says. “If it works, it works.”

A Single Dose Of Ketamine Might Help Heavy Drinkers, Study Finds

What if a single dose of ketamine could make a heavy drinker dramatically cut back on booze?

A team at University College London thinks that ketamine may be able to “rewrite” memories that shape a person’s relationship with alcohol. Scientists say that participants who were given ketamine as part of an experimental study dramatically reduced their average alcohol intake for months after the initial dose. Their research was published Tuesday in Nature Communications.

Ketamine — sometimes known as a club drug called Special K that can produce hallucinations — has been shown to be a powerful and fast-acting treatment for depression. Researchers also are looking into whether ketamine can help patients with post-traumatic stress disorder.

The U.K. findings may signal yet another use for the drug for hard-to-treat conditions.

In general, the treatment options for alcoholism “aren’t particularly effective for the majority of people, particularly over the long term,” says Ravi Das, a UCL psychopharmacologist and the study’s lead researcher.

Das thinks part of the problem is that current remedies don’t necessarily help patients deal with positive memories of drinking that could make them want to drink again.

“When people become addicted, they’re learning that kind of behavior in response to things in their environment,” he says. “Those memories, those associative trigger memories, can be really long lasting and really kind of ingrained. And current treatments don’t target those.”

The researchers thought ketamine might be able to target a heavy drinker’s memories, particularly if people had their memories of drinking triggered just before they received a dose of the drug.

To test this, they recruited 90 people who drank much more than average — an average of about four to five pints of beer a day, or about five times the U.K.’s recommended maximum — but had not previously been diagnosed with alcoholism and were not receiving treatment.

On the first day of the experiment, participants were shown pictures of alcoholic drinks and were asked to rate how strong their urge to drink was. All of them were then allowed to drink a beer.

The next day, they were divided into three groups, and none of them received beer. One group did the exercise in which they saw pictures of drinks — to stimulate their memories — and then received a dose of ketamine. The second group saw the drinks and then got a placebo drug. The final group was shown no pictures and received ketamine.

The results were dramatic. Ten days later, those people who did the memory exercise and got ketamine reported a significant drop in their alcohol intake. A follow-up nine months into the experiment showed that their alcohol consumption was half of what it had been.

Meanwhile, the group that got ketamine and didn’t have their memories triggered saw a smaller but still significant reduction in drinking, both at the 10-day mark and nine months later. The placebo group also reported a decrease, albeit a more modest one.

From Chaos To Calm: A Life Changed By Ketamine

From Chaos To Calm: A Life Changed By Ketamine

So why would stimulating memories of drinking prior to a ketamine dose seem to be so effective in reducing alcohol consumption? Das says ketamine is thought to block certain receptors in the brain that help to “restabilize” a memory — such as pleasure from drinking. “You’re kind of stopping the restabilization, and the memory is weakened,” he notes.

John Krystal, head of the psychiatry department at Yale School of Medicine, was among the first researchers to study how ketamine could be helpful to patients who have depression. He says ketamine doesn’t erase memories but can help rewrite them.

“You can help them have a better and more balanced approach to it,” Krystal says. “Like instead of the idea that alcohol is always good no matter how much you drink … someone could instead say, ‘You know, I don’t really need to drink this much.’ “

That lines up with what the participants in the U.K. experiment reported. Das says they “kind of felt the urge to drink less” and “that might be because of this reduction in the way that environmental triggers can spark off the urge to drink.”

Krystal, who was not involved in the research, says this suggests that ketamine could be useful for other conditions that are exacerbated by certain kinds of memories. The drug, he says, could “help them to get control of what they really think and believe about things like alcohol or other drugs, abuse or their traumatic experiences, which otherwise kind of take over their lives in ways that are very maladaptive.”

“I would say this is a very cool study,” Krystal says. “And I think if the findings can be replicated, then it opens up a new window about a strategy to treat alcohol-use disorders.”

Still, he cautions that this is a fairly new idea and that “there are a lot of complexities here that need to be worked out.” Complexities such as whether people with high tolerance to alcohol respond differently to ketamine or whether there’s something inherent about ketamine that makes people want to drink less even without memory recall. “That’s just the nature of research — no single study can really answer all of the questions,” Krystal says.

Das says he hopes that one day, following more study and testing, ketamine could be used in clinical settings to help patients with alcoholism.

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Study Finds Ketamine Nasal Spray Effective For Treating Depression: What You Should Know

ASSOCIATED PRESS



A new study finds that a nasal spray formulated from the anesthetic ketamine is a safe, fast-acting and effective treatment for treatment-resistant depression. Researchers presented the findings this week at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association.

Esketamine, the intranasal formulation of ketamine, recently received FDA approval as a depression treatment when used with an oral antidepressant, based in part on findings from this study. The results open the door to a potential new alternative for the estimated 30% of depression patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression.

The study included 197 adults from 39 outpatient centers over a two-year period. All of the participants had either moderate or severe depression and hadn’t responded well to at least two antidepressants in the past. Participants were randomly assigned to one of two groups: The first switched from their current antidepressant treatment to esketamine nasal spray and a new oral antidepressant; the other switched from their current treatment to a placebo nasal spray and a new antidepressant.

The results showed significant improvements in depression symptoms among those in the esketamine group compared to the placebo group four weeks into the study, with signs of improvement starting much earlier.

“The study supports the efficacy and safety of esketamine nasal spray as a rapidly acting antidepressant for patients with treatment-resistant depression,” the study concluded.

“Not only was adjunctive esketamine therapy effective, the improvement was evident within the first 24 hours,” said Michael Thase, M.D., one of the study authors. “The novel mechanism of action of esketamine, coupled with the rapidity of benefit, underpins just how important this development is for patients with difficult-to-treat depression.”



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Long known as a party drug, ketamine now used for depression, but concerns remain

A decades-old anesthetic made notorious as a party drug in the 1980s is resurfacing as a potential “game-changing” treatment for severe depression, patients and psychiatrists say, but they remain wary about potential long-term problems.

The Food and Drug Administration earlier this month OKd use of Spravato for patients with depression who have not benefited from other currently available medications. Spravato, the brand name given to the drug esketamine, is a molecule derived from ketamine — known as Special K on the club scene.

Ketamine has been shown in some studies to be useful for treating a wide variety of neurological disorders including depression. Regular, longtime use of it isn’t well understood, psychiatrists say, but the need for a new drug to treat depression is so great that the FDA put Spravato on a fast-track course for approval.

The drug likely will be commercially available in a few weeks, and patients already are requesting it. Restrictions around its use, though — the drug must be administered in a doctor’s office by providers who are certified with the company making it — mean it may be months before it’s widely available, and longer than that before insurers start paying for it.

“I don’t think we know at this point how effective it’s going to be,” said Dr. Craig Nelson, a psychiatrist at the UCSF Depression Center. “There have been a number of studies of ketamine, sometimes showing effects in people who were resistant to other drugs. If we can treat a different group of people, it would be a great advantage.”

Ketamine was developed in the 1960s as a surgical anesthetic for people and animals. The drug can cause hallucinations and a feeling of “dissociation” or unreality, and in the 1980s it took off as a party drug among people seeking those effects. It remained a common anesthetic, though, and in the early 2000s doctors began to notice a connection between ketamine and relief from symptoms of depression and other mood disorders.

Spravato is delivered by nasal spray, which patients give themselves in a doctor’s office. Patients must be monitored while they get the drug and for two hours after to make sure they don’t suffer immediate complications. At the start, patients will get the nasal spray twice a week for four weeks, then taper to regular boosters every few weeks for an indefinite period of time.

Studies of ketamine — and specifically of Spravato — have produced encouraging but inconsistent results. Psychiatrists say that, like most other antidepressants, the drug probably won’t help everyone with difficult-to-treat depression. But there likely will be a subset of patients who get substantial benefits, and that alone may make it an incredible new tool.

About 16 million Americans experience depression every year, and roughly a quarter of them get no benefit from antidepressants on the market. Thought scientists haven’t determined exactly how ketamine works on the brains of people with depression or other mood disorders, it appears to take a different path of attack than any drug already available. That means that people who don’t respond to other antidepressants may find this one works for them.

But a concern among some psychiatrists is that studies have suggested that ketamine may affect the same receptors in the brain that respond to opioids. Ketamine and its derivations may then put patients at risk of addiction — but research so far hasn’t explored that kind of long-term effect.

“There might be some potential problems if you used it too aggressively,” said Dr. Alan Schatzberg, director of the Stanford Mood Disorders Center, who led the research that identified a connection with opioid receptors. “The issue is not so much the short-term use, it’s the repetitive use, and the use over time, as to whether there are going to be untoward consequences.

“It would be hard for me to recommend the use of this drug for chronically depressed people without knowing what the endgame is here,” he added.

Dr. Carolyn Rodriguez, a Stanford psychiatrist who was part of the studies of ketamine and opioid receptors, said she shares Schatzberg’s concerns. But she’s been studying the use of ketamine to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, and for some patients the results have been so remarkable that the benefits may exceed the risks.

“When I gave ketamine to my first patient, I nearly fell off my chair. Somebody said it was like a vacation from their OCD, and I was just, ‘Wow, this is really possible,’” Rodriguez said. “I want to make sure patients have their eyes wide open. I hope (the FDA approval) spurs more research, so we can really inform consumers.”

Though the new nasal spray is the first formal FDA approval of a ketamine-derived drug, psychiatrists have been using the generic anesthetic for years to study its effect on depression and other mood disorders.

In recent years, clinics have opened around the country offering intravenous infusions of ketamine to people with hard-to-treat depression and other problems. These treatments aren’t specifically FDA-approved but are allowed as off-label use of ketamine. The clinics have faced skepticism from some traditional psychiatrists, but there’s a growing ream of anecdotal evidence that the ketamine IVs work — for some people.

Aptos resident Mary, who suffers from depression and other mood disorders and asked that her last name not be used to protect her privacy, said the already available antidepressants weren’t keeping her symptoms at bay, and she frequently felt “one step away from the abyss.” When she first heard about ketamine, from a support group for people with depression and other mood disorders, she was hesitant.

“I kind of hemmed and hawed, because I’d heard that K was a street drug,” Mary said. “But then I said, ‘What do I have to lose?’ So I went and did it.”

The results were quick: Within four days, “the cloud had lifted,” she said. More than a year later, she is still feeling good with regular infusions every three or four weeks. During the ketamine infusion, Mary said she’ll feel the dissociation, which she described as feeling like she’s viewing the world around her as though it were a movie and not her own life.

She said she’s pleased the FDA approved Spravato, though she hasn’t decided whether she’ll switch from the IV ketamine to the nasal spray. She hopes that the FDA approval will give some validation to ketamine and encourage others to try it.

Mary gets her infusions at Palo Alto Mind Body, where Dr. M Rameen Ghorieshi started offering ketamine two years ago. He’s certified with the maker of Spravato — Janssen Pharmaceuticals, a branch of Johnson and Johnson — to provide the drug, though he doesn’t know when he’ll actually start giving the nasal spray to patients.

Ghorieshi said that although he’s been offering IV ketamine for more than two years, he shares his colleagues’ wariness of the long-term effects of regular use of the drug. He hopes FDA approval will encourage further research.

“At this point we’ve done 1,000 infusions. The outcomes have exceeded my own expectations,” Ghorieshi said. “But anecdotes are not clinical trials. I approach this very cautiously. What I don’t want is 20 or 30 years from now to look back and say, ‘What did we do?’”



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Call NOVA Health Recovery at 703-844-0184 for a free consultation for a Ketamine infusion. No referral needed. We offer intranasal Ketamine follow up therapy as well. Alexandria, Va 22306.

Call NOVA Health Recovery at 703-844-0184 for a free consultation for a Ketamine infusion. No referral needed. We offer intranasal Ketamine follow up therapy as well. Alexandria, Va 22306.

From Popular Anesthetic to Antidepressant, Ketamine Isn’t the Drug You Think It Is

An hour before we spoke, Darragh O’Carroll, an emergency room physician from Hawaii, had just given an elderly patient a sedating shot of ketamine. The man had pneumonia and was acting confused and fidgety, making him hard to treat.

“Not only it was a pain control for him when I was putting needles into his neck, but it also kept him still,” O’Carroll says. “And with very minimal risk of lowering his blood pressure.”

Ketamine’s use as an anesthetic — and not as a party drug — is widespread, though not commonly known. In fact, the World Health Organizationestimates ketamine is the most widely used anesthetic in the world and keeps it on their list of essential medicines, a category of drugs that all developed countries should have on hand.

O’Carroll has described ketamine as his “favorite medicine of all time” in an article for Tonic, not only because the anesthetic is incredibly safe and effective, but also because of its versatility. It’s most widely used in surgery, but could also help treat severe asthma, chronic pain, and may even possess anti-tumor properties. In the last two decades, ketamine has also emerged as a potent antidepressant, able to treat symptoms of some mental illnesses in less than 72 hours.

“I think the more research that goes into ketamine, the more uses that we find for it,” O’Carroll says.

From PCP to Painkiller

Ketamine’s story begins with a drug called PCP. Yes, that PCP — phencyclidine or so-called “angel dust,” a drug that when smoked can cause a trance-like state, agitation and out-of-body hallucinations. After it was first synthesized by medicinal chemist Victor Maddox in 1956, the drug was briefly approved as an anesthetic by the FDA for its sedative properties. In tests with a wild rhesus monkey, for example, researchers put their fingers in the previously aggressive animal’s mouth and watched its jaw remain slack.

But while it was safe and effective for pain relief, the side effects of PCP soon became too obvious to ignore.

Some patients under the influence of PCP would feel like they lost their arms or legs or that they were floating in space. It could also cause seizures and delirium. Scientists began seeking a shorter-acting anesthetic without convulsant properties. In 1962, chemistry professor Calvin Stevens discovered a PCP analogue that fit the bill: ketamine.

Ketamine is a potent, sedating painkiller that can cause amnesia and is mostly used in surgery and veterinary medicine. During the Vietnam Invasion, ketamine saw widespread use in the U.S. military because it has several advantages over opioids. First, unlike morphine, ketamine doesn’t suppress blood pressure or breathing. It also doesn’t need to be refrigerated, making it useful in the field or in rural areas that don’t have access to electricity.

Ketamine’s benefits extend beyond use as an anesthetic, though — in some cases it can serve as a balm for the mind as well. A 2008 analysis found that burn victims who were given ketamine were less likely to develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, even if their injuries were more severe. Those findings have been replicated, such as a 2014 clinical trial of 41 patients, who saw their PTSD symptoms diminish within 24 hours, an effect that lasted for two weeks.

“When somebody gets one of their limbs dramatically blown off or is shot in the face, it’s a very traumatic event,” O’Carroll says. In such a situation, giving ketamine not only provides instant pain relief, it could prevent long-lasting trauma.

Because its chemical structure is so similar to PCP, ketamine can still give lucid hallucinations, such as feeling that your mind has separated from the body — a dissociative state users sometimes call a “K-hole.” One recent study based on users’ written reports even indicated that this kind of experience might be a close analogue to a near-death experience. However, these dissociative states only happen at high doses — the amount of ketamine used to for surgery and to treat depression is typically much lower.

But ketamine’s side effects are less common and easier to manage than PCP. In fact, ketamine is one of the safest drugs used in medicine today and can even be given to young children. For example, ketamine was used to sedatethe boys’ soccer team trapped in a cave in Thailand last year. Putting the kids in a tranquilized state made it easier to rescue them, and ketamine is safer than the opioids or benzodiazepines that are also commonly used as sedatives.  

Ketamine as Antidepressant

But it wasn’t until the 1990s that what could turn out to be ketamine’s most important function was discovered. A team from Yale University School of Medicine was examining the role of glutamate, a common neurotransmitter, in depression, and discovered something remarkable: ketamine could rapidly relieve depression symptoms.

“To our surprise, the patients started saying, they were better in a few hours,” Dennis Charney, one of the researchers, told Bloomberg. This rapid relief was unheard of in psychiatry.

Glutamate is associated with neural plasticity, our brain’s ability to adapt and change at the level of the neuron. Ketamine blocks certain glutamate receptors, but not others, and the end effect could be to promote the growth of new neurons while protecting old ones. This could explain how ketamine can help reset the brain, though the theory hasn’t yet been definitively proven.

The prescription meds currently on the market for depression have some major drawbacks. Drugs like Prozac or Wellbutrin can take a few weeks or months to kick in while worsening symptoms in the short term — not a good combination, especially for someone who is extremely depressed, or even suicidal.

It took around a decade for mainstream science to take notice of these early ketamine-depression studies. But once it did, ketamine clinics began popping up all across North America, offering fast relief for depression, anxiety and other mental illnesses. Patients are given an infusion — an IV drip that lasts about an hour — and many people, but not everyone, have seen rapid relief of their symptoms.

Suddenly, ketamine infusions became trendy, though the science to back up some of the medical claims is still inconclusive, according to STAT. However, ketamine infusions are rarely covered by insurance, although that is changing. A typical session can run $700, with many patients taking six sessions or more. But many of these patients have so-called treatment-resistant depression. They’ve tried other medications or therapies without success and some see ketamine as a last resort.

Steven Mandel, a clinical psychologist and anesthesiologist, has used ketamine on patients since it first came on the market around 50 years ago. In 2014, he began using it for patients with depression and opened Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles, one of the oldest and largest clinics in the country. They’ve done over 8,000 infusions so far.

“Our success rate is better than 83 percent,” Mandel says. For his clinic, success means a 50 percent improvement of depression symptoms for longer than three months.

Ketamine’s success as an antidepressant couldn’t help but attract the attention of major pharmaceutical companies as well. In 2009, Johnson & Johnson began developing their own version of the drug they called esketamine. Rather than an infusion through a vein, it’s dispensed through a nasal spray. The FDA approved their formulation in early March. It was thefirst drug in 35 years to fight depression using a different approach than traditional drugs.

“Esketamine is a giant step forward,” Mandel says. “It means we’re not going to be demonizing mind-altering substances used for therapeutic purposes. It opens the door to research on LSD, on psilocybin, on MDMA and many other agents that could possibly relieve a great deal of suffering.”

But many clinicians have raised concerns about long-term side effects, such as heart and bladder toxicity. Others have been critical of esketamine, saying there isn’t enough data yet to suggest the drug is safe or effective. Husseini Manji, a neuroscientist who helped develop the drug for Johnson & Johnson at their subsidiary Janssen, has pushed back against these claims.

“When you line up the totality of the studies, it was really an overwhelming amount of data that was all in the same direction,” Manji says in a call. Though just two of the five late-state clinical trials showed significant results, the changes in mood in the three that fell short were “almost identical in magnitude” to the others, Manji says. It was enough for the drug to meet standards for FDA approval.

We can probably expect other ketamine-related drugs to come to market soon. ATAI Life Sciences, a company funding research on the use of magic mushrooms for depression, is developing their own ketamine depression drug. The pharmaceutical company Allergan also developed rapastinel, another ketamine-like drug, though it failed to show any real benefits for patients in later trials. Manji says this is unfortunate for people who could be helped by these kinds of drugs.

“From a patient standpoint, we were hoping it would work,” he says, even though he was not involved in rapastinel’s development. “But sometimes if you really haven’t got the mechanism right and you haven’t really threaded the needle, then sometimes you don’t see these results.”

Drug of Abuse?

Even though ketamine’s medical uses are well-established, most people have only heard of ketamine in the context of a party drug. Because of this bad reputation — and what’s perceived as growing misuse of the drug — several countries, such as China and the UK, have tried to place greater restrictions on ketamine. This would make it harder to study and more expensive in clinical use.

“If it was to ever be rescheduled, places that would be first affected would be you know places that need it most,” O’Carroll says. The WHO has asked at least four times for countries to keep access to ketamine open. “The medical benefits of ketamine far outweigh potential harm from recreational use,” Marie-Paule Kieny, assistant director general for Health Systems and Innovation at WHO, said in 2015.

So far, no countries have put greater restrictions on ketamine, and that’s probably a good thing. Ketamine has a rich history, but its future is still being written.



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‘Special K’ Drug vs Ketamine Therapy: The Differences in Intentions, Use and Application

‘Special K’ Drug vs Ketamine Therapy: The Differences in Intentions, Use and Application

The Differences Between ‘Special K’ and Ketamine Therapy

Some know it as a veterinary tranquilizer, others know it as a party drug. For others still, it might be a life-line, the only hope to get their life back from the throes of crippling depression. We are talking about a drug called ketamine or ‘Special K’.

Ketamine’s many names and uses make it a difficult drug to understand. The scientific research on ketamine is evolving so rapidly that not even medical professionals can’t agree on how it should be used.

This article takes all of the information about ketamine, or ‘Special K’, and breaks it down so that it’s simple, accurate, and concise. If you’re wondering about the many differences between using ketamine as a street drug and using it therapeutically, then you’ve come to the right place.

Special K: Ketamine as a Street Drug

Most people first learn about ketamine when they hear about the street drug called ‘Special K’. Other names for the drug when used recreationally are: Ketalar, Ketaject, Vitamin K, and Super K. While this drug is not as widely used as Marijuana or some other illicit substances, it has a strong hold on certain niche markets, like the clubbing and raving scenes.

Although doctors and veterinarians began using ketamine in the 1960s, it wasn’t introduced into the party scene until much later. The trend actually began in India, in the Goa trance music scene of the 1980s, and made its way to the western world from there. By the 1990s, ketamine was a major force in the psychedelic drug scene throughout Europe and the United States.

Despite small ups and downs since its introduction in the ‘90s, Special K has remained a steadily popular drug among high school and college students. The US’s National Institute on Drug Abuse has found that 1.2 percent of high school seniors report that they’ve used ketamine in the last year. While that’s much lower than some other drugs, it’s still significant given the seriousness of ketamine’s effects and the dangers of its potential side effects.

An overdose of ketamine can lead to death. Even non-lethal doses can cause side effects like chest pain, memory loss, and trouble breathing. Those who use Special K recreationally often become addicted, and eventually lose their jobs, relationships, and lives to the drug.

Ketamine Therapy: How Doctors Are Using Ketamine to Change Lives

“At this point, any new depression treatment that makes it to the finish line is a huge win.” That’s Dr. George Papakostas speaking to Time Magazine about the desperate need that medical providers have for depression medications. He says that whatever drug does make across that finish line is “going to have a major impact.”

That drug may very well be ketamine.

Despite its reputation as a street drug or a horse tranquilizer, multiple scientific studies have found the drug is a very effective remedy for a number of ailments (such as PTSD), but especially depression.

Ketamine, along with drugs like phencyclidine (popularly known as PCP) and dextromethorphan (often called DXM or ‘Robo’), belongs to a class of drugs called dissociative anesthetics. These kinds of drugs tend to give the users a ‘floating’ sensation, as if they’re detached from their bodies and their surroundings.

Special K is a particularly fast acting form of dissociative anesthetic, which is why it works so well as both a party drug and a numbing agent in surgeries. In medical settings, Ketamine is often used as an initial anesthetic before other, more powerful painkillers like morphine can kick in. But it’s not these anesthetic effects that make the ketamine drug so effective as an antidepressant.

In fact, doctors aren’t entirely sure what it is about ketamine that helps people overcome their depression. Many think that it has something to do with starting up the ‘synaptic plasticity’ of the brain. This is the part of the brain that has the ability to grow and change over time, and increased plasticity is a common effect of other antidepressant medication.

However it works, the scientific results are pretty clear: regular, therapeutic doses of ketamine helps eliminate the symptoms of depression.

One study from February of 2018 observed “significant improvement of depressive symptoms” in a double-blind clinical trial of 67 adults with treatment-resistant depression (a type of depression that doesn’t respond to other medications like Prozac). Further, the study found that the improvements in the patients were sustained throughout the entire 9-week period of the study. That’s not just a good finding, it’s a breakthrough for treating a condition that has long eluded medical professionals.

Although ketamine has not yet been approved in a prescription pill or nasal spray form for treating depression, there are treatment centers that can offer completely legal ketamine therapy for depression. One of these centers, based in Los Angles, is called Ketamine Clinics.

At these centers doctors are able to administer ketamine drugs in a controlled and calm setting through intravenous or infusion methods.

Why People Use Ketamine Drugs: Therapy Vs. Thrill Seeking

Although the ketamine drug used in therapy is technically the same as the Special K drug used in wild raves, the motivations and outcomes of the experiences are very different.

Using Special K to Get High:

When people use Special K as a street drug, they are looking for a high. Some might be seeking a thrilling experience at a rave, while others might be trying to escape from a life that they find overwhelming. Many end up dangerously addicted to the drug after repeated use.

Almost immediately after the drug is ingested, the user begins to feel the effects of the ketamine. At lower doses, ketamine may merely make the user feel ‘dreamy’. But, at higher doses, ketamine can have extreme euphoric and hallucinogenic effects. When these effects are at their most extreme, the user can become immobilized and go into a ‘K-Hole’.

Ketamine’s effects on mobility and memory are so drastic that it is often used as a date rape drug. In this way, the high of Special K can quickly turn into a horrible low.

This dark side of ketamine is made more dangerous by the fact that recreational users are often getting their supply from unregulated sources, like the Chinese black market or the ‘dark web’. Unregulated drugs like this can be cut with toxic chemicals or other drugs, and they can have very inconsistent potencies, making it nearly impossible to determine a safe dose.

In short, ketamine is like many other street drugs when it’s used illicitly: it offers a quick, dangerous high that can easily lead to addiction.

Using Ketamine as Therapy:

John Abenstein, MD, the president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, has said that “Outside of the clinic, ketamine can cause tragedies, but in the right hands, it is a miracle.”

It’s this miracle, and not a fun ‘high’, that people are seeking when they use ketamine for therapy.

Many people’s lives have been plagued by depression, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. People lose their jobs because they can’t find the will to leave their beds in the morning. Their friendships fall apart and their marriages often end in divorce. Some severely depressed people end up taking their own lives. These tragedies are all too common.

Ketamine therapy offers real hope for millions of people who struggle with these psychological problems daily. It’s especially important for those ‘treatment resistant’ patients who have found no relief from other treatments like SSRIs.

Even though there is not yet a prescription ketamine medication for depression, many people’s lives have already been changed by ketamine therapy in clinics. In fact, there is a whole Ketamine Advocacy Network whose mission is to “spread awareness of ketamine therapy for treatment-resistant depression, bipolar, and PTSD, and to make this treatment available and affordable for all who need it.”

Ketamine therapy is about so much more than a fun party or a weekend escape. It’s about healing lives that have been fractured by crippling disorders.

Intravenous Infusions for Therapy Vs. Snorting or Injecting to Get High

In its recreational drug form, ketamine tends to be a white powder or a crystallized chunk that can be broken apart. In order to get high, people snort the drug as lines of powder, take it orally in pill forms, or inject it intravenously using hypodermic needles.

All of these forms of recreational use present their own dangers, such as infection, the spread of disease through used needles, or incorrect dosing.

Using ketamine in a medical facility is a very different sort of experience.

The ‘route of administration’ (ROA), or how the drug gets into the body, is very important for ketamine’s therapeutic qualities to work. Most therapeutic doses of the ketamine drug are given intravenously.

The intravenous infusions are given over an elongated period, usually about a half an hour in length. This method allows the practitioners to control the dosage and to spread out the rate of delivery so that the drug can enter the bloodstream in a consistent and steady manner, rather than all at once.

Intravenous infusions also allow the drug to enter directly into the bloodstream. Other ROAs, like pills, can lead to a large percentage of the drug being metabolized by the body before reaching the brain. You can read more about why intravenous infusions are most effective on the Ketamine Advocacy Network website.

How It Feels to Take Ketamine Therapeutically

Therapeutic doses of ketamine definitely won’t send you into a K-Hole, but they can make you a bit woozy. In some cases, people have reported feeling dissociated, but these feeling are usually minor and can even be pleasurable. Still, patients must make sure to arrange a ride home with a friend or family member because they won’t be able to drive.

Many people find that they can go right back to work or school after their ketamine therapy appointment. Others prefer to head home and take a short nap. Either way, the anesthetic effects of the ketamine should be gone shortly after the session.

Although it varies from patient to patient, many people only require ketamine therapy once a week or less in order to see a significant or total reduction in their symptoms!

K-Hole: The Risks of a Special K Drug Overdose

As we’ve mentioned above, a ketamine overdose is not pleasant, and can even be deadly. Although you don’t have to worry about this if you’re just taking therapeutic doses, those who use the drug recreationally must be very careful.

When someone takes high amounts of the Special K drug they can end up in a sort of catatonic state where they can’t move or talk. This is called a K-hole. Some describe it as a near death experience, and that’s not a good thing. It can be a terrifying and even traumatizing experience.

But a K-Hole is not the worst thing that can happen if you take too much ketamine. A ketamine overdose can also lead to vomiting, chest pain, seizures, and even death.

The Future of Ketamine

Depression has plagued humans for millennia. It was first described by Hippocrates as “Melancholia”, and although we know much more about the disease these days, the treatments that are widely available are far from perfect. This is why the advances in ketamine therapy are so exciting.

Doctor Thomas Insel has said that ““Recent data suggest that ketamine, given intravenously, might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.” That’s a big deal coming from the director of the Institute of Mental Health.

Ketamine may continue to be a dangerous street drug for some, but for others it’s a beacon of shining hope.

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VA uses ketamine to treat PTSD effectively

The San Francisco Veterans Affairs Medical Center is administering ketamine to veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and depression.

Tobias Marton, the director of the ketamine infusion program at the center, said that since the program first launched two years ago, they have treated about 40 patients who had virtually exhausted all other options.

“They’ve done everything we’ve asked them to do and they remain with very severe symptoms and with a poor or impaired quality of life,” he said. “Despite (past treatments), there remains a high risk of suicide (with some veterans).”

While it was not clear where the 40 patients are from, the option is something that is available to Humboldt County veterans who are suffering from PTSD or depression.

Marton said that in general, about a third of people diagnosed with depression don’t respond to first, second and third lines of treatment.

In contrast, ketamine infusion has yielded “impressive outcomes.”

Many people know of ketamine as a party drug, often referred to as Special K, but it is mainly used medically for anesthesia or pain treatment.

Miracle of medicine

“We know ketamine has rapid and powerful anti-suicide properties,” he said. “To have another tool, a potentially powerful tool to have an impact on suicide rates is really exciting.”

While Marton is proceeding with “cautious optimism,” Boris Nikolov, the CEO of Neurosciences Medical Clinic in Miami, Florida, which has a ketamine clinic, believes the application might be a medical breakthrough.

It’s one of the greatest discoveries in the field of depression,” he said. “This is one of the miracles in medicine.

Nikolov’s clinic has treated 120 patients with ketamine, including his wife who has PTSD as a result of severe child abuse.

“Ketamine really helped her,” he said. “That was a really big part of her recovery.”

Nikolov said most medicines that treat depression take from two to four weeks to start working. Ketamine begins working within hours after it is administered, a process which usually involves an IV infusion over the course of about an hour.

“What’s most important is the strong and fast effect of ketamine in patients who are very seriously depressed, or want to hurt themselves,” he said. “When they finish treatment, they’re totally different people. There is no other medication that does that.”

Brad Burge, the director of strategic communication at the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, or MAPS, said there has been “an explosion of treatment that’s outpaced research.”

“It means that people are going to have another option, an alternative to conventional medications,” he said.

According to Burge, MAPS believes the best form of ketamine infusion involves pairing with other forms of psychotherapy such as group or individual counseling.

Ketamine availability

While ketamine is an FDA-approved drug which has been used as an anesthetic as well as a pain reliever, it isn’t officially sanctioned by the FDA to be used for treating mental health disorders. However, Marton said that ketamine has been administered in this fashion for over 18 years now.

A company is currently in the process of trying to get an intranasal product approved by the FDA which would administer ketamine through the nasal passage, according to Marton. He expects the FDA’s decision to be announced sometime around March 2019.

If the product is approved, he said, VA clinics in rural communities like the one in Eureka would likely be able to start offering ketamine treatments as well.

For now, only the location in San Francisco is able to offer the treatment, but Marton said anyone within their service realm, which includes Humboldt County, is invited to consult with the VA about seeking treatment.

“We want to be as thoughtful as we can,” he said. “As we understand more about it … (we) might be able to start helping people who we haven’t been able to help despite throwing everything we have at them.”



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William Jamieson is only 23, but he’s already spent almost one-third of his life battling severe depression.

Once a top student and athlete with a large group of friends, the young Ottawa man fell into a depression at age 16 that he couldn’t shake.

“It got pretty bleak,” he says. “In terms of energy, I just couldn’t get out of bed. I couldn’t eat. I didn’t have the energy to eat. I was wasting away.”

“I kind of kept myself in the dark. That goes to how you see the world,” he adds.

He tried at least 10 medications and received electric shock therapy — but nothing worked.

Watching his son sink further into his depression left William’s father Charles desperate to help.

“There was nothing more they (the doctors) could do, and as a parent, that is not what you want to hear, because the depths of William’s depression were as dark and black as you can imagine,” Charles says.

Fearing for his son’s life, the elder Jamieson went online.

“I typed in Google: ‘breakthrough depression treatments,’ and ‘ketamine’ came up,” he says.

Though probably best known as the party drug “Special K,” ketamine has been used as an anesthetic and painkiller for decades. But in recent years, it’s been explored as a treatment for depression.

Researchers say the drug can lift depression and suicidal thoughts in patients with even one treatment.

Doctors at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre have been using intravenous ketamine on patients with treatment-resistant depression and say they are seeing promising results.

Ketamine isn’t approved by U.S. regulators to treat depression, but hundreds of private health clinics have been offering it off-label. Jamieson now travels from his home in Ottawa to New York City every six weeks to get infusion from anesthesiologist Dr. Glen Brooks.

The darkness began to lift two days after the first treatment, William says.

“It feels like there is a loosening of the fist that is inside of your head.”

His father Charles grows emotional thinking about that weekend.

“I say, ‘Will, how are you feeling?’ He says, ‘Dad, it is gone. The depression is gone. The colours are brighter.’ I will never forget those words. ‘The colour is brighter. The fog is gone,’” he says.

Dr. Brooks has used ketamine for 35 years to treat neuropathic pain. After reading research on using of ketamine for depression, he began to offer the drug to patients with long histories of post-traumatic stress disorder and other mood disorders, charging up to US$400 per infusion.

Many of his patients have tried multiple medications and electroshock therapy and have not responded.

“So this is generally more of a last stop than a first stop,” he explains.

He says the improvements are often rapid and dramatic.

“What patients report is a sense of calmness and wellbeing that comes over them,” he explains.

Dr. Brooks believes that for suicidal patients, “ketamine saves lives every day.”

“I don’t think anything is as effective as ketamine has been,” he says.

In Canada, many psychiatrists are excited to better understand how ketamine works in the brain, but others are urging patience until more is known about the drug’s possible side-effects, including elevated blood pressure, blurred vision, and bladder inflammation.

“We don’t know who is more prone to the side effects or indeed, the long-term consequences of the side effects,” says Dr. Sidney Kennedy, the Arthur Sommer Rotenberg Chair in Suicide and Depression Studies at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto.

But Dr. Brooks says patients should be able to access a drug that could save their lives.

“In my experience of treating over 1,500 patients, I see no reason for any patient to wait, especially if they are critically ill with their mood disorder,” he says.

Charles Jamieson thinks ketamine should be more widely available in medically supervised settings.  Until it is, he will pay for his son to get the drug in the U.S.

“I have got my son back and I know he will have the life that he wants to make. He has an opportunity that he would not have had without ketamine,” he says. “Without ketamine, it would have been a terrible, different story.”

 

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Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial of Ketamine in
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Proof-of-Concept

Ketamine for Obsessive-compulsive disorder  <ARTICLE

Ketamine has effectiveness on the short run when it comes to treating Obsessive-compulsive disorders:

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), the first-line pharmacological treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), have two
limitations: incomplete symptom relief and 2–3 months lag time before clinically meaningful improvement. New medications with faster
onset are needed. As converging evidence suggests a role for the glutamate system in the pathophysiology of OCD, we tested whether a
single dose of ketamine, a non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist, could achieve rapid antiobsessional
effects. In a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, crossover design, drug-free OCD adults (n ¼ 15) with near-constant
obsessions received two 40-min intravenous infusions, one of saline and one of ketamine (0.5 mg/kg), spaced at least 1-week
apart. The OCD visual analog scale (OCD-VAS) and the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale (Y-BOCS) were used to assess OCD
symptoms. Unexpectedly, ketamine’s effects within the crossover design showed significant (po0.005) carryover effects (ie, lasting
longer than 1 week). As a result, only the first-phase data were used in additional analyses. Specifically, those receiving ketamine (n ¼ 8)
reported significant improvement in obsessions (measured by OCD-VAS) during the infusion compared with subjects receiving placebo
(n ¼ 7). One-week post-infusion, 50% of those receiving ketamine (n ¼ 8) met criteria for treatment response (X35% Y-BOCS
reduction) vs 0% of those receiving placebo (n ¼ 7). Rapid anti-OCD effects from a single intravenous dose of ketamine can persist for at
least 1 week in some OCD patients with constant intrusive thoughts. This is the first randomized, controlled trial to demonstrate that a
drug affecting glutamate neurotransmission can reduce OCD symptoms without the presence of an SRI and is consistent with a
glutamatergic hypothesis of OCD.

 

Ketamine is a noncompetitive antagonist of the NMDA
receptor (a type of glutamate receptor). Studies in patients
with unipolar and bipolar depression have found that a
single intravenous infusion of ketamine can have antidepressant
effects within 40 min of starting the infusion.
These effects persist for 3–18 days, long after the drug has
cleared the patient’s system (Berman et al, 2000;
Diazgranados et al, 2010a, b; Murrough et al, 2012; Valentine
et al, 2011; Zarate et al, 2006, 2012a). We treated an
unmedicated individual with OCD with ketamine (0.5 mg/kg
IV over 40 min) and found rapid anti-obsessional effects that
returned to baseline by 1-week post-infusion (Rodriguez
et al, 2011). Bloch et al (2012) conducted an open ketamine
trial in 10 subjects with OCD and found modest but
statistically significant improvement in OCD symptoms
over days 1–3 following ketamine infusion compared with
baseline; however, most subjects in this study were taking
multiple other medications at the time of infusion.