How Ketamine Differs From Antidepressants

How Ketamine Differs From Antidepressants

Depression is a mood disorder that arises from chemical changes in the brain and problems with nerve cell signaling. It’s not a character flaw, nor is it a punishment for something you’ve done. It’s a medical condition that can improve with the appropriate treatment.

ReYou is a ketamine infusion clinic in Howell, New Jersey, where we treat patients with depression using an infusion of the anesthetic ketamine rather than antidepressants. Here’s what we want you to know about the difference between the two approaches.

What are antidepressants, and how do they work?

Antidepressants target brain chemicals that play a role in mood and emotion, such as serotonin and norepinephrine. By adjusting the levels of the chemicals, the medications can improve your mood, pulling you out of a depressive state.

Some common classes of medication are:

It can take 6-12 weeks before you can tell if an antidepressant is having any desired effect, and most antidepressants affect the monoamine transmitters, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

Over time, doctors realized that serotonin levels by themselves couldn’t fully explain depression, for two reasons:

  • More than a third of people are resistant to SSRIs
  • Growing research showed that serotonin and related transmitters account for less than 20% of transmitters in a person’s brain

Clearly there was a need for something that targeted the other 80%.

What is ketamine, and how does it work?

The remaining 80% of neurotransmitters are made up of glutamate and GABA. Glutamate produces GABA, a calming neurotransmitter, and depleted levels of glutamate and GABA can lead to depression.

Ketamine started as a battlefield anesthetic in the 1970s, made its way as an anesthetic in operating rooms a decade later, and finally as a calming agent for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Ketamine specifically targets glutamate, which regulates processing of emotions, thoughts, and the ability to form new neural connections (synapses), all of which affect how you learn, remember, and respond to new experiences.

By balancing levels, ketamine essentially resets the brain.

Research at Yale University also found the new neural connections formed with ketamine therapy give patients the opportunity to develop more positive thoughts and behaviors.

And ketamine can repair inflammatory damage in the brain caused by long-term stress and stress hormones like cortisol that can themselves lead to depression.

Ketamine takes only 24 hours to make changes in the brain.

At ReYou, we offer ketamine therapy in conjunction with talk therapy to address any underlying issue that may be contributing to your depression. And we generally provide the ketamine as an intravenous infusion, because we can adjust the dose to your individual needs.

Not having success with antidepressants? Ketamine therapy might be right for you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, call us at ReYou at 908-638-1133, or book a consultation online today.

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