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Depression can make you feel like you’ll never escape from the negative thoughts and feelings that affect your mental and emotional health. But proper treatment can go a long way when it comes to managing the depression symptoms that are interfering with your quality of life. 

Medication is normally one of the first courses of action at the beginning of your mental health journey. But it’s important to determine which will be most effective for your mental health disorder symptoms. If you have major depressive disorder, your provider may recommend ketamine as a treatment option. But there’s a particular type of ketamine, called esketamine, that has been known to be especially effective in treating persistent depression symptoms.

Read on to learn about the basics of ketamine and esketamine as well as how esketamine can help people with major depressive disorder.

What is ketamine?

Let’s start with the basics. Ketamine is an FDA-approved dissociative anesthetic. It’s a medication that’s used to cause short-term loss of consciousness and awareness for people undergoing surgery. It can also be used as a pain reliever as well as depression treatment for individuals who haven’t responded to other forms of treatment.

Ketamine can come in multiple forms, including injection by IV or lozenges. The anesthetic can cause hallucinations and feelings of euphoria. Some people may abuse it as a club drug for recreational purposes. Many may know ketamine by street names like “Special K” or “Kit Kat.”

What is esketamine?

In March 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the first new medication for major depressive disorder in years, called esketamine, an offshoot of ketamine. It comes in the form of a nasal spray and works to decrease depression symptoms. It’s meant to be combined with an oral antidepressant. 

Esketamine, also known as S(+)-ketamine or (S)-ketamine, is recommended as an option for people who have treatment-resistant depression. It also helps with suicidal ideation as a symptom of their major depressive disorder. If someone has treatment-resistant depression, that means they haven’t experienced positive results after at least two trials of antidepressants.

Esketamine is distributed under different brand names, but Spravato is the only esketamine brand that’s used as a treatment for depression. The other common brand name is Ketanest, but that’s only used as an anesthetic.

It’s important to note that esketamine is a controlled substance and can only be administered by a health care professional in a clinical setting.

How esketamine works as a treatment for depression

Esketamine is a fast-acting medication for hard-to-treat diagnoses of depression. Some report relief from their symptoms in just a few hours. It works by increasing the glutamate levels in your brain. It’s also one of the only medications prescribed to people with depression that decreases their suicidal thoughts.

Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that communicates with the cells in your central nervous system. It essentially encourages them to do their job. A lack of glutamatergic mechanisms can play a role in every aspect of your depression, including mood regulation and cognition.

One of the ways that esketamine is most effective in combating depression symptoms is by helping repair the affected brain cells to help form connections. The stress put onto the brain by depression can impact brain cells that are used for important functions, such as memory and learning. That’s why many people with depression experience forgetfulness and concentration issues. By working to rewire the brain, esketamine can reduce the symptoms of depression. 

Active Path Mental Health can provide esketamine as a treatment for depression

Depression can make it difficult to carry out your day-to-day responsibilities. It can also be hard to maintain healthy relationships with those around you. Medication is often considered as one of the first treatment options when diagnosed. But not everyone has a positive experience with prescribed antidepressants. That’s why mental health providers are recommending esketamine for treatment-resistant depression. It’s also an option for people with major depressive disorder with suicidal ideation.

Active Path Mental Health can help determine if esketamine is the right choice for you. We have multiple locations in Oregon and Washington that can show you how effective esketamine can be as a treatment for depression. 

To learn about how you can benefit from esketamine for depression, contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.

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