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How Ketamine Works To Treat Depression

    

     Standard antidepressants like Prozac work on a group of chemical messengers in the brain called the serotonin system. Researchers once thought that a lack of serotonin was the cause of depression, and that these medications worked by simply boosting serotonin levels in the brain.

     More recent research suggests a more complicated explanation: serotonin medication work in part by stimulating the birth of new brain cells, which eventually form new connections in the brain. But creating new brain cells takes time — a few weeks, at least — which is thought to explain the typical expected delay in response to antidepressant medications, for the most part.

     Ketamine, in contrast, works on a different neurochemical system in the brain – the glutamate system. Researcher Ron Duman at Yale believes ketamine rapidly increases the communication among existing brain cells by creating new connections among them. This is a quicker process than waiting for new neurons to form via the serotonin pathway, and accomplishes the same goal of enhancing brain circuit activity.

     To study how this might work, Dr. Duman looked at Ketamine’s effect on rat brains. The first image below shows the brain cell of a rat (in red) that has received no ketamine treatment. The small bumps and spots on the side of the neuron (circled) are budding connections between brain cells.










     Within hours of giving the rats doses of ketamine, Dr. Duman saw a dramatic increase in the number of new connections sprout up between brain cells. It is this increase in brain cell connectivity is thought to bring on its antidepressant response.

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Don’t Waste Another Day in Depression.....

 

     Depression can be a disabling and potentially deadly disorder.  Even though there are many good medications to help with depression, their effects are typically slow in onset (a matter of weeks), and often require several trials of different medications before finding a medication that works well.  At the worst, some people just do not respond even to multiple trials of antidepressants (about 30% of patients), which can lead to missing work or school, disability leave, inability to care for oneself or family, and even hospitalization and more dramatic interventions such as ECT (Electroconvulsive Therapy).

     However, over the last decade, researchers at the U.S. National Institutes of Health and worldwide have been looking into novel ways to battle depression, and have found the use of ketamine infusion to have extremely rapid (less than 24 hours for many) and profound improvement in depression for many sufferers, even those that have not benefited from multiple other medications and even ECT treatments.  Strong research has shown that ketamine can quickly and significantly ease the burden of depression and may overall speed the recovery from the disabling effects of depression.     

    Practically speaking, ketamine therapy may save a sufferer time, money, and the pain of experiencing a severe depressive episode, and put them on the road to recovery more rapidly than using traditional antidepressant medications or other therapies alone.

Recent Media Links About Ketamine Therapy:

Scientific Discussion on How Ketamine May Workhttp://www.jbrf.org/ketamine-clinical-trial/the-neurodegenerative-and-neuroprotective-effects-of-ketamine/