Scientists are constantly looking for better drugs to provide quick and lasting relief from severe and predominant illnesses. Better alternatives with lower chances of addiction and the capacity to ease and cure conditions like depression and chronic pain are especially necessary.
Ketamine is one such drug that has caught the attention of various scientists. Ketamine is a common anesthetic used in emergencies and surgery as anesthesia. However, it is an exceptional drug because it can produce analgesia and amnesia alongside anesthesia. Thus, scientists are trying to find new ways of employing this drug to treat various illnesses.
Ketamine is an NMDA receptor blocker and is commonly available in the form of infusions. It has numerous potential benefits, and below are six of these benefits.
- Relieves seasonal depression:
Around 280 million people suffer from seasonal affective disorder worldwide. Approximately 5 % of the population of the United States of America also faces depression every year. Out of these 10 million people, most are women. The use of ketamine infusion can prove to be a breakthrough in treating seasonal depression.
Seasonal depression is no joke. It can be debilitating and troublesome, especially for those living in areas with long winters like Chicago. The lengthy harsh winters take a toll on mental health. The constant darkness, reduced sun exposure, and long nights lead to changes in mood and normal body functioning, resulting in depression and anxiety. Therefore, ketamine infusions are beneficial for residents of Chicago and surrounding areas. Various ketamine clinics, like the Chicago ketamine clinic, administer Ketamine infusions that provide relief from symptoms and lessen the intensity of the disease.
- Alleviates chronic pain:
Living with chronic pain can be stressful. You cannot carry out your daily activities, you have trouble sleeping, and every task becomes a burden. Consequently, you become agitated and moody. Thus, chronic pain and depression often go hand in hand.
Around 50 million people in the United States of America suffer from chronic pain. Most of these individuals take prescription medications such as opioids or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs to manage their pain. However, long-term use of this medication is more harmful.
Ketamine infusions are favorable in chronic pain treatment, especially in cases where traditional medications are no more effective. It is also beneficial for the treatment of pain post-operatively as it disrupts the function of NMDA receptors in the brain resulting in the reduction of pain signals. In addition, its anti-inflammatory properties reduce inflammation within the body, thus alleviating pain. Therefore, ketamine provides analgesia for pain resulting from cancer treatment, fibromyalgia, arthritis, and neuropathies.
- Helps overcome addiction:
Addiction is a dysfunction of the brain in which the body craves a substance that provides a particular effect. The effect can be excitatory or depressive and tends to activate the reward pathway leading to addiction.
Numerous prescription medications can cause addiction. Opioids, CNS stimulants, and sedatives are the most commonly abused drugs. In the United States, 5% of the population suffers from opioid addiction, and 350,000 individuals have an addiction to amphetamines.
Ketamine, due to its action on various receptors and channels within the brain, can aid in addiction treatment. Studies show ketamine reduces or reverses opioid addiction by acting on NMDA receptors. Similarly, individuals taking opioids for pain relief shift to ketamine to prevent addiction. In addition, studies show that ketamine reduces the desire to take alcohol or heroin in rehabilitated individuals. These effects of ketamine in treating addiction can be due to enhanced neurogenesis, changes in neuronal networks, and disruption of addictive behaviors.
- Provides quick relief:
Patients with major depressive disorders or chronic pain often have lengthy treatment plans as it takes time for the medications to build up within the body to produce the therapeutic effect. Often patients can not follow through with the therapy resulting in therapeutic failure.
Ketamine infusions provide rapid relief from symptoms of depression and pain. Being an infusion, it takes no time to absorb and rapidly downregulates parts of the limbic system. In addition, ketamine increases glutamate in the brain; glutamate promotes neurogenesis and excites the brain, improving depressive symptoms.
According to different studies, ketamine takes only a few hours to provide symptomatic relief and around two weeks to lessen the intensity of depression and pain.
- Helps bypass ADRs:
Long-term use of prescription medications not only causes addiction but has other disadvantages as well. These medications can cause weight gain, severe constipation, headaches, sexual dysfunction, and pruritis. Not to forget their hazardous effects on breathing and heart, as such medications slow down breathing resulting in respiratory depression. In addition, drugs like opioids and amphetamines cause mental instability and suicidal ideation, resulting in more events of self-harm and suicide.
Ketamine is a preferable alternative for such medications as it helps individuals bypass all these adverse effects. Moreover, ketamine does not have fatal side effects if used properly.
- Effective in the long run:
After absorption into the blood, analgesics and anti-depressant medications tend to metabolize and convert into an inactive form. The metabolized form has no therapeutic effect, and the body eliminates it. However, ketamine is different. Even after metabolism, ketamine stays effective and provides relief from symptoms for an extended time.
Patients receive a ketamine infusion every two weeks till six doses are complete. These six doses provide long-term remission. Afterward, patients only receive maintenance doses according to their conditions, thus providing a long-term remission from the disease.
- Works when other medications cannot:
A considerable breakthrough of ketamine is its ability to work for treatment-resistant patients. Patients who have tried traditional medications and they’ve proved to be ineffective. These patients take various drugs to relieve their symptoms, yet relief is inadequate. One example of this is treatment-resistant depression. In treatment-resistant depression, the person does not respond to at least two different classes of anti-depressants and needs rigorous therapy. However, studies show that ketamine is successful in treating depression and controlling suicidal thoughts. Thus, it is a promising drug for such patients.
Chronic pain and depression can reduce the quality of life severely. They lead to anguish and hopelessness within the patients. Even with medications, the patient experiences relief after months of treatment. Therefore, there is a need for rapidly acting drugs for patients dealing with chronic pain and pain associated with severe health conditions. Ketamine is a drug that offers efficacious treatment of these two conditions. In addition, its use in other disorders and diseases is also promising in the future.