In any given year, major depressive disorder affects approximately 17.3 million American adults, which is nearly 7.1% of the entire 18 years or older population of the United States. For many, dealing with depression is a life-long journey that’s complete with its unique combination of highs and lows. However, what makes depression so unpleasant for so many is how much of their emotional time is dominated by the oppressive lows. Oftentimes, these lows occur at undesirable times, and are too frequent to forget. For those who struggle with this, many turn to modern medicine to find relief. However, it was not until the last decade that radical new depression treatments like ketamine infusions gained popularity as a safer and faster acting antidepressant.
In one case, Jessica Donlon was a 17 year old girl who had spent the last 4 years struggling with severe depression. In just four years, her depression forced her to go from cheerleading and playing softball to spending most of her time sleeping. However, despite all attempts to find a solution using both inpatient and outpatient therapies, nothing worked. In fact, her depression only got worse.
However, on one day, Jessica’s mom, Theresa, had learned about a clinical trial at Yale New Haven Psychiatric Hospital that was using ketamine to treat severe depression. Understanding that her daughter was suffering, she learned about the treatment–ketamine infusions–what kind (if any) risks are involved, and if it made sense to enroll her daughter. Theresa must have discovered all of the medical journals published on ketamine for depression, which span throughout the decade, because it wasn’t long after that until she decided to encourage daughter Jessica to give it a try.
In order to receive any ketamine infusions, Jessica had to qualify first. Therefore, she underwent an extensive psychiatric evaluation to review her medical history, evaluate her current mental state, and to determine the efficacy of her current medications when used exclusively. Since a number of previous studies have shown ketamine to be most effective when combined with an SSRI antidepressant, this is also likely used to determine if one should be prescribed alongside the infusions. Once the process was complete, Jessica and Theresa were relieved to learn that she qualified for the clinical trial.
Despite dealing with significant depression that crippled her from functioning everyday, Jessica was obviously determined to overcome it. It’s clear that she understood that her responsibility was to try all treatment options as they were made available to her. To her benefit, this proactivity paid off as she the infusions would be the last depression treatment that she would need.
Jessica only had to receive two infusions before she realized the positive impact that the medication would have on her and her future. Within minutes of receiving the infusion, she understood how effective an antidepressant that operates through the glutamate system, rather than the central nervous system, was. It was at this point that her and her mother realized that the clinical trial was a success, and she was about to turn a corner.
This wonderful story is a fantastic example of how a drug like ketamine, which only lost attention because of its generic status, could find a new home as one of the safest, and fastest acting depression treatments available to date. While it has proven to be an effective general anesthetic in much larger doses, it’s proven to be even more effective when used in low doses as an antidepressant.
Contact South Sound Health & Wellness
South Sound Health & Wellness is Washington state’s leading provider of ketamine infusions for depression and chronic pain. Contact us today for a free consultation, and to learn more about these life-changing treatments.