Many hospitals and psychiatric institutes around the world offer inpatient services for those struggling with major depression disorder (MDD) and other depression-related illnesses like bipolar disorder, mood disorders, and those with suicidal thoughts. Usually, inpatient care is the best way for long-term depression patients to receive the care they need.
Did you know that ketamine is now being used to help manage depression among some inpatients for depression? This powerful anesthetic drug is being used to help thousands of people tolerate their symptoms, carry on with their treatment, and facilitate their healing. In the last few years, ketamine has skyrocketed in popularity as a medicinal intervention in humans.
Are you currently living with depression or is someone you know diagnosed with depression? If so, you may be interested in learning about the many exciting new developments in inpatient treatments in the medical world. In this article, our experts discuss the latest news on inpatient depression treatment and scientific research on ketamine and ketamine therapy.
Depression and the Inpatient Experience
Inpatient care is a form of hospitalization in which patients require admission to a psychiatric institute or hospital because it would otherwise be unsafe to have the patient unsupervised. Normally, only those living with severe cases of depression and persistent suicidal ideation are admitted into inpatient care.
Those living with severe depression are usually admitted into inpatient care due to previous ambulatory care or through admission via emergency medicine departments. After the writing of an admission note, a patient is formally admitted into inpatient care. Inpatient care can last days or several weeks until they are deemed well enough for a discharge note.
Ketamine: What We Know
Ketamine is a powerful and fast-acting analgesic and anesthetic drug that has recently gained popularity as a treatment for major depression, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other chronic pain-related illnesses. However, since it was first discovered in the early 1960s, it has not been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Sometimes maligned by the name “horse tranquilizer,” ketamine is one of the most common anesthetics used in veterinary medicine for large mammals. Its popularity as a surgical anesthetic in animals has led to a scientific inquiry about its suitability in humans.
Consequently, a large body of research has been produced on ketamine and its efficacy as a pharmaceutical-grade medical intervention.
Ketamine: The Latest Research
Ketamine has been the subject of intense scrutiny in recent years. Since the early 2000s, ketamine infusion clinics have opened up across the United States. These mental health clinics offer off-label ketamine for treating anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. However, both the general public and the scientific community have historically understood little about ketamine.
In the last decade, public ignorance surrounding ketamine has begun to dwindle. This is due to a large mass of research having been published on the subject of pharmaceutical ketamine and a vast amount of anecdotal evidence compiled by ketamine infusion clinics.
Ketamine as an Antidepressant
A recent research paper published in Molecular Psychiatry in 2018 tested whether a sub-anesthetic dose of ketamine would yield antidepressant benefits. Their research paid specific attention to the molecular mechanism of action underlying the antidepressant properties of ketamine.
Their results were encouraging for ketamine advocates. The research team found that ketamine exerted “acute changes in synaptic plasticity, leading to a sustained strengthening of excitatory synapses, which are necessary for antidepressant behavioral actions.” This provides material evidence that ketamine alleviates symptoms of depression.
This research supports earlier work done by scientific teams exploring ketamine’s suitability as an antidepressant agent. Notably, a 2015 study led by Dr. David Feifel found that ketamine is effective as an antidepressant substance. However, he maintains that more research still needs to be done on ketamine become final conclusions can be drawn.
A recent review article in ScienceDaily also points to the fact that ketamine shows significant promise as an antidepressant. In particular, they cite a 2018 paper from the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) which defended the use of nasal spray ketamine for treating acute bouts of depression rapidly.
Ketamine and Inpatient Anxiety Research
Over the past year, ketamine has drawn significant media attention for its ability to reduce feelings of anxiety and panic. Specifically, an article in VICE discussed experimental applications of ketamine in the form of nasal spray, pills, and intravenous infusions for helping provide relief for those living with anxiety.
Of particular interest is ketamine’s ability to help alleviate social anxiety disorder (SAD) on top of regular depression-related symptoms for those undergoing inpatient care. At present, research is being undertaken as to whether mental health inpatients can safely use ketamine to treat multiple intersecting mental illnesses at once.
Interestingly, a New Zealand-based research team found that ketamine can reduce symptoms of treatment-resistant anxiety disorders. In other words, ketamine has the unique potential to provide rapid relief for those who would otherwise be unable to obtain treatment.
Ketamine and PTSD
Finally, ketamine is also being explored as a potential treatment option for those who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It is well understood that depression and PTSD often go hand in hand, especially among those who are seeking inpatient care. To be able to alleviate the symptoms of both conditions would provide significant relief for these patients.
In one study published in 2018, 12 dozen adults with PTSD were given three ketamine doses of ketamine over a three-week period. The patients experienced rapid anti-anxiety effects that lasted between three and seven days. These results indicate that ketamine may have value as a treatment of last resort in cases of acute depression or anxiety.
Inpatient Care and Ketamine?
All of the most recent searches on ketamine and ketamine therapies indicates that ketamine may have strategic value as a treatment for inpatient care. However, more research needs to be done on whether ketamine infusion therapy is suitable for the sensitive inpatient care environment.
Overall, ketamine shows significant potential for use in clinical and inpatient care. It remains to be seen whether we can expect to see ketamine used in clinical and inpatient care settings in the future, although the recent research proves to be promising in this regard.