Ketamine is a drug that has traveled a long and winding road in the past six decades, and today it is providing hope for the more than 18 million Americans who are affected by depression.
First developed in 1962, ketamine began to be used as a general anesthetic in the 70s because it produced few side effects. It is still valuable for that purpose in a variety of settings today. For human use, it has mild side effects compared to other anesthetics and has been approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic. Because it has little effect on breathing, it can be used in emergencies to buy time until a patient can be transported to a hospital. Soldiers administered ketamine to fallen comrades in the field during the Vietnam War until they could be seen by medical personnel.
Here are 4 ways ketamine is a lifesaver for millions of Americans.
1. It Treats a Leading Cause of Disability
In addition to disrupting the lives of more than 18 million Americans, depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide. At best, it can seriously affect a person’s home, work and social life. At worst, it can lead to suicide – the most common cause of death for those between the ages of 10 and 24.
2. It Provides Fast Relief
Treatment that goes into effect as quickly as possible is critical for those who suffer from symptoms of severe depression because, in many cases, severe depression leads to suicide – the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
3. It Represents a Major Breakthrough
Though clinical depression affects nearly 7 percent of U.S. adults, as well as many children and teenagers, until recently, little had changed in the treatment of depression since the early 1990s. But in the past 10 years, ketamine has gained popularity as an antidepressant because it can help right away. In contrast, many conventional medications can take four to six weeks to start working. Some people who suffer from depression simply do not have that long.
4. It Is Effective in Treatment-Resistant Patients
Because ketamine targets a different part of the brain than most antidepressants, it has been shown in multiple studies to be effective even in patients whose depression has resisted other treatments. The results, moreover, have been accompanied by few side effects.
First approved by the Food and Drug Administration in the 1970s to sedate patients during surgery, ketamine is now prescribed off-label to help fight depression in roughly 250 clinics throughout the U.S. Off-label, which is both legal and common, means it is being used in a way not specified by the FDA’s packaging label.
To learn more about innovative ways to treat depression, call Montana Psychiatry & Brain Health Center at (406) 413-9342 or visit Mt Psychiatry.com.
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