Ketamine Treatment for Bipolar and Mood Disorders
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), approximately 2.8% of adults in America are diagnosed with bipolar disorder each year (over 9m adults in the US alone).
Additionally, Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), revealed that bipolar disorder is the sixth primary cause of disability, and it can reduce your life expectancy by over nine years. Further information indicates that more than 20 % of people who have bipolar disorder have suicidal thoughts. You can live with this disorder for more than ten years before you get an accurate diagnosis. Statistics indicate that only one in four people can get an accurate diagnosis in less than three years.
It is unfortunate that many people with bipolar disorder are resistant to treatment even after using different antidepressants. Others suffering from this condition end up looking for conventional therapies after their symptoms persist without any hope.
However, ketamine discovery has some great hope. Health providers state that it can provide relief within hours after using it. The efficacy of ketamine differs from other antidepressants since it requires about four to six weeks to start showing results in the body. It is also highly effective in cases where a patient’s condition is resistant to other medications and traditional methods used during treatment.
Understanding Bipolar Depression
Bipolar depression or bipolar disorder is a mood disorder differentiated by episodes of high mania and low depression. For maniac episode, patients often lose touch with reality, have high energy, and feel extremely happy, while those with depressive episodes have low energy, lack interest in daily activities, and have little motivation.
Bipolar disorder is further categorized into two, that is Bipolar I or Bipolar II. Patients with Bipolar I, have more extended manic periods that last a minimum of one week. Alternatively, those with Bipolar II have hypomanic moods with less intensity than full-blown mania which usually last less than a week. During treatment, the primary goal is to alleviate the bipolar moods and solve the cycles of depression and mania.
Bipolar depression can affect any person, either from early childhood to old age. The chances of getting this disorder are high if you have parents suffering from this disorder. Also, women have severe depression symptoms even though it affects both men and women equally.
Ketamine Research for Bipolar Depression
Researchers at the NIMH, directed by Dr. Carlos Zarate, conducted a study and found that a single dose of ketamine yielded quick antidepressant results in patients with bipolar depression. They also replicated the discovery in a separate group of patients with bipolar disorder. Replication is a significant factor of scientific research because it ensures that the initial discovery was not accidental and they can repeat it.
In the research, they gave out a single dose of placebo and a single dose of ketamine to some patients for two days and two weeks apart. They monitored the patients carefully and repeatedly concluded ratings by measuring symptoms of their depression and suicidal thoughts.
Results indicated that for patients who took ketamine, their depression symptoms drastically became better within 40 minutes, with continuous improvement over three days. Generally, 79% of the patients who received ketamine improved, but no patient showed improvement when they took the placebo.
The most important discovery was that ketamine reduced suicidal thoughts significantly for the first time in a group of patients with bipolar disorder. Interestingly, these results took place within one hour. Bearing in mind that bipolar disorder is one of the most dangerous of all mood disorders, these discoveries had a great impression towards the future of bipolar depression treatment.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy for Bipolar Depression
Ketamine infusion therapy provides quick relief of bipolar depression unlike conventional antidepressants and other drugs that most bipolar patients have used. Many patients who follow a second infusion therapy get relief symptoms within the first or second day. Additionally, they don’t need to be anxious about any unwanted side effects common in other antidepressants.
Further results published in the Journal of Psychiatric Practice in the year 2015 revealed that ketamine therapy is especially useful in patients who had treatment-resistant bipolar disorder. Also, patients who have tried traditional treatments and actively searched for assistance from counseling or support groups may significantly benefit from ketamine therapy.
Efficacy of Ketamine Compared to Other Antidepressants
Ketamine is an NMDA (N-methyl D-aspartate) receptor antagonist, meaning it affects the nervous system by blocking the action of NMDA receptors. Unlike regular antidepressants such as SSRI’s, MAO inhibitors or Tricyclics which balance the levels of neurotransmitters that take weeks before a patient gets relief, ketamine acts directly on NMDA receptors to offer quick relief.
Also, most antidepressants are usually prescribed to prevent or treat the depressive attacks, but they are never wholly effective. Countless patients keep on experiencing episodes of depression while undergoing treatment. Others must try using different types of antidepressants until they find one that is effective. Besides, patients may require several weeks or months of therapy before they get relief from the effects of the drugs used.
Fortunately, ketamine therapy is an effective approach to control bipolar depression without producing manic episodes, as many conventional antidepressant medications do. Also, other traditional tranquilizers or antipsychotic drugs cause unwanted side effects such as weight gain which most patients dislike. With ketamine, there are only a few minor side effects that many patients can tolerate.
If you are struggling with bipolar depression, a side effect such as weight gain can be counter-productive, meaning it can increase depression symptoms that result in self-esteem issues. However, the good news is that ketamine therapy can control the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder without the undesirable and deteriorating side effects. Therefore if you have Bipolar II or depressive episode, ketamine therapy is the best solution you will ever find without regret.
To conclude, ketamine provides an opportunity for developing the next generation of antidepressants that are radically different and useful than the present ones.