A drug that has been referred to as a “club drug” now has the potential to help millions of people who suffer from severe depression and have seen little to no improvement from using other medications.

Ketamine infusion therapy is a new treatment that has shown positive results in two out of three people and ceased suicidal thoughts in three out of four after treatment.

The drug helps stimulate the growth of synaptic connections through neurons in the brain.

Ketamine has a history of abuse because of its ability to cause hallucinations. However, it also has a history of being used both inside and outside of hospitals as an anesthetic. Ketamine was approved by the FDA in 1970 to be used for this purpose. It has yet to be approved to treat depression, though. The drug has been proven safe in humans for over 50 years and there is no evidence that it is addictive to humans.

Doctors, including David Feifel, professor of psychiatry at the University of California, have been administering ketamine to patients since 2010.

“It became clear to me that the future of psychiatry was going to include ketamine or derivatives of ketamine,” Feifel said.

This type of treatment is technically still in its trial stage, but is already providing relief to those who are severely depressed.

The infusion occurs while the patient is awake and only takes about an hour, plus a half hour of rest afterward.

One out of every four college students suffer from some type of mental illness, according to healthline.com. College students juggle multiple tasks every day, whether it’s homework assignments, worrying about collecting debt or balancing social life with school work. Many students are under a great amount of stress, and it can become unbearable when the medicine you’re taking isn’t making a difference in your happiness.

Many factors can lead to students becoming depressed. A study conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists found that many college students are unprepared for college life, face greater debt and fewer job offers than previous generations of students. Students worry about these issues often and it can be overwhelming for many.

With the help of ketamine infusions, people are seeing results within days of the first treatment.

However, this treatment is not for those with mild depression. The infusions are only used on those who are treatment resistant, meaning they have tried other medications and saw no sign of improvement. More than 30 percent of patients with depression seeking help won’t see improvement with standard antidepressants such as Lexapro, Paxil and Zoloft.

Suicide is the third leading cause of death in people ages 15 to 24. For people who have suffered for years and have seen no results, this treatment could be their saving grace. You only need a referral from any mental health care professional to be eligible for the infusion treatment.

One factor that may pose a problem is how costly treatment is. Each session costs $525, and doctors will know within the first two sessions if it is successful. If successful, patients will receive another 12 infusions following the first two.

Even though ketamine infusions are costly right now, professionals are expected to begin working on making the drug available to be administered nasally or orally within the next few years.
Everyone deserves the opportunity get the proper help they’ve been hoping for and maybe ketamine is the answer they’ve been searching for.

Email Laura Schmidt at opinions@cardinalpointsonline.com

<a href="http://cardinalpointsonline.com/byline/laura-schmidt/" rel="tag">Laura Schmidt</a>