Ketamine is inspiring and driving the medical industry to rethink how they treat depression. Ketamine is FDA approved as an anesthetic drug and is commonly used in vets, but it also has a reputation as a popular party drug due to the out of body experience it produces. However, in recent years doctors have begun to experiment with it in treating depression, PTSD, and many other conditions. The results have been promising- so promising that it is now ushering in a new age of depression drugs.
Two major pharmaceutical companies are currently developing drugs based on ketamine. So far the results have been promising and the FDA has even put them on its exclusive fast track.
For the past 10-15 years, there has been a vacuum in the treatment of depression. After antidepressants were developed no new mechanisms were explored. Instead, pharmaceutical companies just began creating variations of antidepressants without looking at other options.
Antidepressants have worked, but many come with side effects that in turn require additional medication. Doctors end up playing an endless game of prescribing pills to balance it all. Not to mention that some people have treatment-resistant depression that doesn’t respond to traditional medication or therapy.
That’s why this new era of depression drugs is long overdue. Ketamine’s reputation as a party drug made it taboo in the medical community for many years, but it’s benefits are now outweighing the risk. Johnson & Johnson is currently developing esketamine, which mirrors ketamine’s structural makeup, in a nasal spray formula. Meanwhile, Allergan is developing a drug called rapastinel that is different chemically than ketamine but works in the same way in the brain.
Another major downfall of traditional antidepressants was how long they took to work. Patients would have to wait weeks if not months to begin feeling the effects, time that some people just didn’t have. Rapid-acting therapies, like ketamine, have been game-changing. It can help in treating suicidal patients or be used while patients wait for their traditional medication to begin kicking in.
It took over 30 years for ketamine’s antidepressant effects to be discovered, and nearly 18 years before the medical community was willing to take it seriously. Now that its popularity is booming, those who struggle with depression might have more effective and faster-acting medications available to them soon.
Dr. Rodriguez founded the Delray Center in 2003 and built it on a foundation of core clinical, professional, and ethical principles that are adhered to still to this day. Dr. Rodriguez founded the Delray Center in 2003 and built it on a foundation of core clinical, professional, and ethical principles that are adhered to still to this day.