Current Science and Mechanism of Ketamine in the Brain
Ketamine Infusion Therapy for Depression
Individuals who suffer from severe depression and are prone to self-harm are said to be those that would benefit most from ketamine infusion therapy. As most are aware, antidepressants that are currently available to treat symptoms of depression usually require a few days or weeks to improve the conditions of the patient. However, ketamine has been proven to have almost instantaneous results that can last up to a few weeks.
To better understand why ketamine is an effective method for relieving depression and other mental conditions, it’s important to understand how it impacts the brain. Essentially, ketamine interacts with glutamate-producing brain cell receptor sites. Glutamate is a vital chemical that is responsible for regulating how the body and brain send and receive messages. For some people, glutamate is not correctly processing, and ketamine blocks its production. This causes the anesthetic effect that people experience once they ingest the medication.
Once ketamine impedes the production of glutamate, the central nervous system is also impacted. Keep in mind; the central nervous system regulates areas of the body such as:
- Heart function
- Repertory processes
- Nerve signal transmission
In a sense, ketamine dulls the brain so that it’s not operating in “overload” that is often experienced by individuals who suffer from depression or other mental disorders. It offers a calming effect that allows new connections to be made in the brain. The result is that depression symptoms subside temporarily. However, because ketamine also impacts other vital areas of the body, dosage and administration are incredibly important.
Research from National Institute for Mental Health
Carlos Zarate from the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at National Institute for Mental Health indicates that his team’s research proves that ketamine can restore synaptic connections in individuals. After studying the impact on 30 patients, Zarate discovered that those that took ketamine showed signs of strengthening connections between neurons in areas of the brain that are most impacted by depression. It’s revolutionary to see instantaneous results influence how the brain functions. However, because of the hallucinogen properties of the drug, more research is needed to understand why this can occur and how it can be avoided.
Researchers from esteemed groups such as the findings of National Institute for Mental Health indicate that ketamine can cause the new connections to form between nerve cells in parts of the brain that are responsible for mood and emotions. It’s incredible to understand the impact of ketamine, but the next step is to continue its development to better improve the lives of those that suffer from severe depression. Discoveries such as this are likely the reason that ketamine will continue to be researched and developed.