Ketamine: An Effective Treatment for Suicidal Ideation
On 10 September 2017, world suicide prevention day was organized. Globally, suicide is acknowledged as an important public health concern, and that this problem is growing exponentially. To prevent suicide, interventions used are mostly psychosocial or medications. Psychosocial ones include preventative and therapeutic measures including psychoeducation and screening while medications include antidepressants, antianxiety and other treatments. In the cases of severe depression with suicidal tendencies, electroconvulsive therapy is administered.
Medications like antidepressant drugs reduce the symptoms of depression thereby also the suicidal ideation may rarely cause agitation and suicidal ideation as a side effect; this is the case in children and young adults in between the time when these medicines are started and the doses are increased. Recently, IV ketamine therapy has been approved by FDA for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. The ketamine infusion therapy has so far proved to be highly effective in preventing suicidal ideation among patients with depression.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic drug mainly which is most commonly used in surgeries for pain relief without compromising breathing. It has quick therapeutic effects on pain receptors and also has a calming effect.
In small doses, ketamine stops the spread of glutamate (the most abundant neurotransmitter in your brain). This can stabilize your mood quickly and suppress unwanted thoughts like self-harming. It also calms down the symptoms of depression much faster than any other traditional medication.
Promising results have been achieved with ketamine infusion therapy in helping the patients to quickly improve their mental state without any significant adverse effects. This is highly effective in cases where the symptoms of depression persist even after taking all the conventional medications and therapies.
How it reduces suicidal ideation?
In case you are suffering from depression and thoughts of committing suicide or self-harm, it is crucial to get quick relief from your symptoms. The other treatment options are not quite immediate. On average, antidepressant medications can take up to several weeks to get the desired effect, and that too among half of the patients. This is suggested when life is hanging in the balance.
Ketamine infusion therapy has been shown to relieve the severe symptoms of depression in just a matter of few hours and low doses of Ketamine infusion therapy can disrupt the suicidal crisis in patients with severe depression. The is achieved with the “calming effects” of ketamine on the brain and by changing the structure of synapses in the brain. Technically, ketamine changes the path for important neurotransmitters in several important areas of the brain.
Multiple sessions of IV ketamine infusion have shown to be life-saving for those exhibiting suicidal behavior and a relief for those with other conditions like bipolar disorder, pain, anxiety. In one of the studies, among 18 patients with suicidal ideation enrolled in a program of IV ketamine therapy, 88% of them achieved complete remission of their suicidal tendency. In another study conducted in the UK, a reduction in suicidal ideation was seen in 12 out of 14 patients. This data is quite promising that Iv ketamine therapy is an effective way to treat the patient of depression having suicidal ideations.
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