Mental Health

How Does Ketamine Treatment Help Severe Depression?

By October 24, 2022 October 26th, 2022 No Comments
Counselor prescribing ketamine treatment for patient with severe depression.

On March 20, 2019, the Food and Drug Administration approved a form of ketamine to treat major depression. This comes as the first new medication approved for depression in decades. This breakthrough treatment option can be a powerful cure for those who haven’t had successful relief from other medications, or for those with treatment-resistant depression. So, what exactly is ketamine treatment and how does it help severe depression? 

What is Ketamine Treatment?

Ketamine treatment is administered in two different ways.1 First, there is the nasal spray known as esketamine, which is the recent FDA-approved ketamine treatment option for depression. In addition to esketamine, there is another form of ketamine treatment that involves IV infusions or prescribed lozenges. Both the esketamine and IV infusions are viable options for treating depression; however, the nasal spray has been shown in research to be an especially effective remedy when used with additional treatment strategies.

Ketamine treatments produce the best results when used as part of a larger treatment plan for depression.2 Esketamine has been shown to be most effective when taken in combination with an oral antidepressant and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). For these reasons, esketamine is not considered a first-line treatment option for depression. Ketamine treatment is better for people with moderate to severe major depressive disorder who haven’t found relief from at least two other antidepressant trials.  

How Does Ketamine Treatment Help Treatment-Resistant Depression?

Treatment-resistant depression (TRD) occurs when standard treatment options, like antidepressants and psychological counseling, aren’t enough to relieve depressive episodes and symptoms. Ketamine treatment is ideal for those with treatment-resistant depression, as research3 has demonstrated clinically significant results of ketamine treatment reducing severe depression scores. 

Ketamine treatment helps treatment-resistant depression because of its fast-acting efficacy. Relief from the feelings of TRD can happen within just 40 minutes of ketamine treatment. Ketamine brings fast relief from depression by triggering glutamate production which prompts the brain to form new neural connections. This gives the brain new neural pathways that create the opportunity to develop more positive thoughts and behaviors. This effect has never been seen before, even with traditional antidepressants, making ketamine treatment a profound reliever for those suffering from treatment-resistant depression. 

What Are The Side Effects of Ketamine Treatment?

Ketamine treatment is generally a safe treatment, even for those with suicidal ideation. The main side effects may include:

  • Dissociation
  • Intoxication and sedation 
  • High blood pressure  
  • Headache  
  • Nausea and vomiting

Ketamine should be used with extreme caution for those with a history of substance use disorder, as ketamine can cause euphoria and some people can become addicted to it. Increased caution with this treatment should also be exercised for pregnant mothers, older adults with symptoms of dementia, teenagers, and those with schizophrenia.  

How Do You Know If Ketamine Treatment Is Beneficial For You? 

When considering ketamine treatment for your depression, you should have a discussion with your primary care doctor, mental health provider, and any other healthcare professionals you see. It’s important to remember that ketamine isn’t a first-line treatment for depression. It’s usually used only when other, more longstanding treatments haven’t been effective. Ketamine treatment can be a life-changing cure to your depression, but it is important you make necessary considerations before beginning treatment. 

Meridian Advanced Psychiatry Is Here For You 

Finding an effective solution for depression can seem daunting, but Meridian Advanced Psychiatry is here for your treatment. If you or a loved one can’t find relief from your depression symptoms, ketamine treatments might be a good fit. Our mental health experts at Meridian Advanced Psychiatry can administer and determine if ketamine is the right solution for you! Send us a message or call (208) 515-CARE to learn more or book an appointment. 



1 What is Ketamine? How it Works and Helps Severe Depression. (2022). Retrieved 26 October 2022, from https://www.webmd.com/depression/features/what-does-ketamine-do-your-brain?src=rss_public

2 How Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression. (2022). Retrieved 26 October 2022, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/ketamine-depression

3 Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression: When and where is it safe? – Harvard Health. (2022). Retrieved 26 October 2022, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketamine-for-treatment-resistant-depression-when-and-where-is-it-safe-202208092797

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