Orthopedic & Wellness Center Blog

Ketamine to Treat Depression

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Spinal conditions don't just cause debilitating pain; they affect every aspect of a person's life. Patients with spinal injuries or diseases are often left with limited mobility, decreased energy, and suffer from anxiety or depression. Those suffering from chronic back pain often begin to lose hope because so many previous treatments have failed to provide relief. Over time, the depression from the pain may start to negatively impact thoughts or other aspects of a person's life.
While antidepressants and behavioral health therapy may have worked for chronic pain patients in the past, some physicians are considering a new treatment option to manage pain and depression: ketamine. Unfortunately, ketamine has a reputation for misuse and abuse, but in a hospital setting, it is used as an anesthetic for relatively minor procedures. Still, ketamine carries a stigma that it is a dangerous street drug since it has been abused by celebrities like Amy Winehouse and rock singer Oli Sykes.
Nevertheless, new clinical trials have found ketamine may have the potential to safely and effectively combat depression and suicidal thoughts. In fact, researchers have discovered this anesthetic works in a completely different way than common antidepressants like Prozac or Zoloft. Those medications often take weeks or even months to begin working. Depending on the patient’s environment, ketamine may provide relief right away.
Currently, ketamine is being tested and used by psychiatrists and anesthesiologists across the country. It's typically administered via IV infusion or through a nasal spray. The FDA has not approved ketamine for depression specifically, so it is not covered by most insurance providers. However, research is showing promising results for ketamine as a short-term treatment option for patients suffering from depression. Researchers hope to present long-term mental health benefits from the drug in the near future.
There is still a lot that needs to be learned about how ketamine works to fight depression and how often a patient should use it to manage their depression. Many studies have only reported results after one treatment, but some physicians are offering as many as six sessions of infusions for about two weeks to manage pain. Therefore, additional information about this medication are on the horizon. 
The American Spine physicians are optimistic about some of the current research trials for ketamine's ability to manage depression. They want patients to know that depression is a very common illness that can develop after living with a chronic condition. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts, please tell your American Spine physician right away. We are here to listen to your concerns and help in any way we can, whether it’s recommending a treatment or just lending a compassionate ear.
At American Spine, we are committed to a minimally invasive approach to promote efficient pain control, higher functioning, and better quality of life! If you or someone you love is suffering from chronic pain, orthopedic, neurosurgical or spine issues don't hesitate to make an appointment by calling 240-629-3939.
 We hope to see you soon!
The advice and information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace or counter a physician’s advice or judgment. Please always consult your physician.