There are many different types of mental health disorders such as major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, those with suicidal thoughts (suicidal ideation), obsessive-compulsive disorder, and bipolar disorder. Bipolar disorder sometimes referred to as bipolar depression or manic depression, is a mental condition marked by periods of severe depression punctuated by periods of elevated mood. In other words, bipolar disorder encompasses continuous swings being “high” and “low” moods. Although no cure is available, ketamine therapy has shown promise as an effective treatment.
Do you, or does someone you know, suffer from bipolar disorder? If so, you should know what options are available in terms of treatment and symptom alleviation. While the conventional treatment options, such as psychotherapy and antidepressant drugs, are commonly understood, little is known about the benefits of ketamine for treating bipolar.
In this article, we outline the myriad benefits and advantages of ketamine infusion therapy for treating bipolar disorder. In doing so, we will touch on the scientific research recently conducted on ketamine therapy and will provide suggestions for using medicinal ketamine safely and effectively.
Bipolar Disorder: What Is It?
Little is understood of bipolar disorder. However, the essential aspects of bipolar are that it is a psychiatric disorder in which the patient oscillates between intense periods of high and low moods known as mania and depression, respectively. There are two main types of bipolar: Type I and Type II disorder.
The risk of suicide among bipolar patients is greater than six percent over 20 years, and the chances of self-harm are several times higher than the general population. The available data indicates that those living with bipolar are far more likely to develop chronic anxiety issues and substance abuse problems as they get older.
Between one and three percent of the American population are clinically diagnosed as bipolar. Although the causes are not well understood, it is believed that bipolar is both genetically and environmentally determined. Risk factors for bipolar include childhood abuse, neglect, long-term stress, early childhood trauma, and a family history of psychiatric illness.
Conventional Bipolar Treatments
Many people who live with bipolar disorder suffer in silence without seeking treatment. This is largely because bipolar sufferers are unaware of the treatment available to them. However, more and more people living with bipolar are beginning to seek out the treatment they need. Currently, psychotherapy and mood stabilizers are the primary treatment options.
Psychotherapy for Bipolar
The core symptoms of bipolar can be managed with persistent long-term psychotherapy. Behavioral therapists can help those living with bipolar to recognize their environmental triggers, reduce the expression of negative emotions, and prevent remissions.
Most psychotherapy clinics assert the importance of talking with patients when they experience bouts of mania so that their behavior can be regulated. Maintaining confidantes and close relationships with therapists can help bipolar patients build the support network necessary for facilitating their recovery.
Medication for Bipolar
There are two main classes of drugs available to help bipolar patients: antipsychotics and mood stabilizers. The most commonly prescribed drug for controlling bipolar is lithium, which has been shown to reduce the incidence of suicide in bipolar patients significantly. Other drugs such as olanzapine have been shown to prevent relapses and support mood stability.
Bipolar and Society
Unfortunately, there is a social stigma surrounding bipolar disorder. This stigma has arisen largely due to public ignorance of the disorder. Those who live with bipolar disorder often cite social prejudice as a reason for not seeking help for managing their symptoms. However, public awareness of the disorder has increased in recent years.
Hollywood and stage depictions of the illness has also not done sufferers of bipolar any justice. Popular plays such as Death of a Salesman (1949) and films such as The Mosquito Coast (1986) and Mr. Jones (1993) depict bipolar sufferers in a disparaging way. These depictions have led bipolar sufferers to feel shameful and not seek treatment.
Ketamine and Bipolar Disorder
Many of those living with bipolar disorder are resistant to conventional treatment options. An article in MDedgereports that up to half of all bipolar patients remain symptomatic despite seeking regular treatment. This attests to the great difficulty in treating bipolar disorder by conventional means.
Ketamine, however, has provided a glimmer of hope for those suffering from bipolar disorder. A significant amount of research has been published in the last decade that indicates that ketamine therapy may be helpful for bipolar sufferers who do not respond positively to mainstream treatment.
A 2017 study from Spain found that ketamine infusion therapy provided relief for a severe treatment-resistant bipolar depression patient for four weeks without major side effects. Another research study from an Iowa-based scientific team found that ketamine therapy “demonstrated a statistically significant improvement over placebo” for those with bipolar depression.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Recently, ketamine infusion therapy has gained popularity as a treatment method for severe cases of bipolar disorder. Ketamine infusion therapy is the leading form of ketamine-based therapeutic treatment. Ketamine infusion therapy administers a controlled dose of intravenous ketamine under the supervision of a medical professional.
In most cases, patients require two to six infusions of ketamine to realize the full benefits of the therapy. Evidence has shown that ketamine infusion therapy can provide lasting results for those who are resistant to normal bipolar depression treatment. Consequently, ketamine therapy has become a popular alternative treatment for many in recent years.
Is Ketamine Therapy Right for Me?
If you are one of the many people living with bipolar disorder that is resistant to conventional treatment methods, you may benefit from ketamine infusion therapy. We recommend speaking with your doctor about whether ketamine infusion therapy is right for you. However, it is advised that you undergo ketamine treatment in conjunction with conventional psychotherapy.
It is important to note that certain drugs commonly prescribed to bipolar depression patients, such as benzodiazepines (i.e. Valium, Ativan, and Xanax) are known to interfere with ketamine. As such, they cannot be taken before or during your ketamine infusion treatment.
If you take benzodiazepine drugs, let your doctor and your anesthesiologist know prior to receiving ketamine treatment. Taking contraindicated drugs with ketamine can result in serious negative side effects.