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Ketamine Therapy: An Effective Treatment for Depression?

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People with major depressive disorder (MDD) who do not satisfactorily respond to a course of recommended antidepressant medication within a specific amount of time are said to have a condition known as treatment-resistant depression. In hopes of changing the reality of those suffering from this condition, ketamine might be the next promising drug people should know about.

Depression is an increasingly common mental health condition, drawing the attention of many health agencies. The World Health Organization estimates that about 280 million people worldwide suffer from it. Unfortunately, while there are many well-established approaches to treating depression, most fail to bring lasting healing because they don’t address root causes. Moreover, in the case of the most common antidepressants, known as SSRIs, the medications sometimes have little to no effect on some individuals and a range of side effects in others.

SSRIs’ mechanism of action is generally similar from one medication to another. They usually work by increasing the availability of serotonin and norepinephrine, two neurotransmitters that are believed to be out of balance in depressed patients. However, recent research has shown that the causes of depression are not simply explained as a serotonin imbalance in the brain. For example, depression is often trauma-related. So, while SSRIs may help treat symptoms, these serotonin regulators rarely cure them.

As the urgent need for more effective treatments grows, companies like Numinus, a Canadian enterprise, are looking into the potential of ketamine alongside psychotherapy for long-lasting improvement of the quality of life of patients with depression. Numinus’s approach is to pay careful, sensitive attention to every individual’s story while providing ketamine therapy preparation and integration.

In an interview for Pharmacy Times, psychiatrist Dr. Reid Robison from the Numinus team emphasized, “…we need interventions that aren’t just kind of band-aid approaches to treating symptoms, like numbing out the anxiety. We need to get underneath the hood of these complex, multifaceted illnesses. And if there is an underlying anxiety disorder, we need to go for that root cause. If there’s trauma contributing, we need to do some trauma healing. And these can be serious illnesses that require intensive treatment.  On the positive side, even deeply ingrained patterns and behaviors can be unlearned. It just takes time. And, as ‘therapy accelerators,’ psychedelics become important tools in helping the individual see with a new perspective….”

Under Dr. Robison’s clinical leadership, Numinus aims to transform mental healthcare with evidence-based, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy.

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