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Will Ketamine Really Battle Life-Long Depression?

Ketamine infusions seem promising against life-long depression. Will the new nasal spray Spravato reverse treatment-resistant depression too?
Will Ketamine Really Battle Life-Long Depression?
Lonely young man outside at house balcony looking depressed destroyed sad and suffering emotional crisis and grief on an urban background

People with depression have a really tough time. Not only does the condition suck all of the joy out of life, the medications used to treat it have some potentially serious side effects. Moreover, antidepressants don’t work for everyone. They can also take up to six weeks to exert a therapeutic effect. What can an individual suffering from life-long depression do? One reader reports unexpected success with an old drug.

Does Ketamine Reverse Life-Long Depression?

Q. I just started getting ketamine IV infusions two weeks ago, after I heard about the Spravato nasal spray. After a few days I’m a person again!

I haven’t really laughed or enjoyed anything at all for more than 20 years. That’s my entire adult life. I just got a life gifted back to me and all I feel now is hope and gratitude. Nothing has been even close to how ketamine has transformed me.

I’ve been on more than a dozen antidepressants over that time, prescribed by half a dozen psychiatrists. Some things helped, but nothing like this. This isn’t a placebo. No way.

I’ve suffered life-long depression and have grappled with suicide for years. That’s all gone now. This medication saved my life. It should be accessible to everyone that needs it. All I can think now is this: It’s sure exciting to be alive!

The Research on Ketamine and Esketamine:

A. Ketamine is a very old medication that has been used in anesthesia. Over the last several years, psychiatrists have been reporting that ketamine infusions can act quickly to alleviate treatment-resistant depression (American Journal of Psychiatry, March 29, 2019; Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, Nov. 27, 2018). 

Such pilot studies probably touched off the research leading to the esketamine (Spravato) nasal spray that the FDA recently approved for hard-to-treat depression. We are delighted that you have achieved such good relief from your life-long depression.

You can learn much more about ketamine at these links:

Could Suicide Be Prevented with Better Access to Ketamine?

Listen to our free podcast with a researcher at the National Institute of Mental Health:

Show 983: Intriguing Approaches to Overcoming Depression

Get an insiders view of ketamine from the original researcher and my mentor, Dr. Edward Domino:

Surprising Ketamine Side Effects and Anti-Suicide Benefits

There’s a new drug in town. It is a chemical cousin of ketamine, esketamine. You can learn about Spravato at this link:

High Cost of Spravato (Esketamine) For Depression!

Share y0ur own experience with treating depression in the comment section below.

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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  • Phillips JL et al, "Single, repeated, and maintenance ketamine infusions for treatment-resistant depression: A randomized controlled trial." American Journal of Psychiatry, March 29, 2019. DOI: 10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.18070834
  • Farber NB, "NMDA antagonists for treatment-resistant depression." Handbook of Experimental Pharmacology, online Nov. 27, 2018. DOI: 10.1007/164_2018_165
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