Treatment resistant depression is exactly what it sounds like: major depressive disorder (MDD) that, despite standard intervention, fails to respond to treatment.
Experts have not settled on a single definition of the condition but failing to respond to two antidepressants from different classes of drugs is the normal threshold for diagnosis.
Up to 30% of people who seek help for MDD suffer from treatment resistant depression; however, because a range of factors influence the efficacy of treatment, it is important to not leap to the conclusion that you may be one of them. Normally, a physician will not only want to see that you have gone through two rounds of antidepressant treatment, but that you have maximized the dose of each medication before making a diagnosis. Additionally, they may look for hidden causes that explain the failure to respond to treatment. These often include other mental health disorders that mask the response to treatment, underlying health conditions that prevent proper absorption of the drug, or simply struggling to adhere to the treatment plan.
If you are a person who, despite all of these checks, has been unable to find relief from depression, don’t despair. Treatment resistant depression is an agonizing, exhausting condition but continual research is being done to develop methods that provide real, lasting relief. Ketamine infusions, for instance, are one such method that offers special promise.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy and Treatment Resistant Depression
Research related to treating depression has come far over the last decade. One important development concerns the relationship between a neurotransmitter called glutamate and mood modulation with investigators noting that increased glutamate uptake leads to the release of molecules that facilitate inter-neuron communication along new pathways. This, in turn, positively affects mood, thought patterns, and cognition.
Ketamine increases glutamate release in the brain cortex and stratum. At the same time, it acts as an antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor while stimulating the α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) receptor. That’s a lot of very specific language simply saying that via this mechanism incredible gains in relieving treatment resistant depression have been found.
In mere hours after undergoing ketamine therapy, some patients who have never otherwise found relief from depression often report incredible improvement. What’s more, studies have also found ketamine to be effective in reducing suicidality in some sufferers thus making this a truly life-saving intervention.
What Does Ketamine Therapy Look Like?
While ketamine can be delivered orally, sublingually, intranasally, or intramuscularly, research demonstrates that intravenous infusion is the most effective and reliable method. The logistics of a ketamine infusion are simple: an IV is placed in the patient, while heart rate, blood pressure, and oxygen monitors are applied, and then the infusion begins. The entire process takes 45 minutes and after a 30-minute rest, you return home.
A standard course of ketamine therapy involves 4-6 infusions over a two-week period. Afterward, maintenance infusions may be required. The majority of patients experience lasting relief from treatment resistant depression after undergoing ketamine therapy.
To learn more, do not hesitate to schedule a free consultation at Vitalitas Denver—a mental health treatment clinic specializing in ketamine infusion therapy.