How Ketamine Works to Treat Depression: Scientists May Have Found an Answer


It’s no secret that ketamine infusions are one of the most effective depression treatments available today. Effective in up to 70% of patients, ketamine infusions not only alleviate depressive symptoms— including suicidal ideations—but they also work rapidly, taking effect sometimes within hours of an infusion. 

Ketamine is an old drug, learning some pretty miraculous new tricks. It’s been around since the 1970s, originally introduced as an anesthetic, but used frequently as a painkiller in emergency settings. It is a generic drug, but as research continues to support the use of IV ketamine as a treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD and other psychiatric disorders, pharmaceutical companies are scrambling to develop a patentable drug that can provide patients with a similar level of relief.

The problem is that scientists, while they know without doubt that ketamine works to treat depression, haven’t yet pinpointed exactly how ketamine works to treat depression. Until now.

In a study recently published in Molecular Psychology, researchers from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that ketamine works to shift the location of G proteins in brain cells. This shift enables better communication between brain cells, which alleviates depressive symptoms and enables the restoration of damaged neural connections.

Read more about the study here: https://www.inverse.com/article/46327-ketamine-used-for-depression

Previously, researchers believed that ketamine worked by blocking NMDA receptors. This function, however, may be less important that originally believed.

Understanding how ketamine for depression works is a major piece of the puzzle for pharmaceutical companies looking to develop ketamine-like drugs that can effectively—and rapidly—reduce depressive symptoms in the millions of people who suffer from mood disorders. Janssen Pharmaceutica’s esketamine, an isomer of ketamine that is administered intranasally, has just successfully passed the third phase of clinical trials, and with the new knowledge we’re gaining about how the brain works, how depression works, and how ketamine works, hopefully we’ll see more effective drugs emerge over the coming years.

Contact Ketamine Greater Boston

Ketamine infusions remain the gold standard in depression treatment, delivering 100% of the drug directly to the patient’s brain, catalyzing rapid healing and relief from depressive symptoms. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder or another psychiatric disorder, we’d love to offer a free consultation to answer your questions and help determine if ketamine could help you live a richer and more fulfilling life. Just complete the brief form below, and a member of our clinical team with contact you shortly.

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