Ketamine for depression changed my son’s life. For that I will be forever grateful. But as it stands, it is widely recognized among mental healthcare providers that depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in the United States, which is often treated successfully with antidepressants and psychotherapy. However, many patients do not respond to the traditional depression treatment, greatly impacting one’s quality of life. Depression is well established as a major cause of morbidity and mortality around the world for which all mental healthcare providers share the same goal, that is, to relieve such depressive symptoms and assist the patient in restoring an adequate state of well-being.
As both a healthcare provider and a parent of a child who suffered for years with treatment resistant depression and anxiety, I only wish that someone had recommended low dose Ketamine as an option for depression treatment much sooner. It was very difficult to watch my own child endure such horrible side effects related to the ten plus antidepressants that were suggested in treating the depression over a six-year period. Weight gain, mood swings, apathy, suicidal thoughts, increased anxiety, and a feeling of detachment were just a few of the side effects experienced while providing no relief for the depression for which the medications were prescribed. As parents, we want the best for our children and in treating any mental health illness, this means finding a depression treatment that is both effective and has minimal side effects. Though I knew that ECT and TMS could be effective in treating depression, these options were never a consideration for my nineteen-year-old child. I could not rationalize, in my own mind, letting my child undergo any depression treatment that I felt unsure of and for which I felt could potentially further complicate her well-being.
I was beginning to feel as though the mental healthcare system had failed us as I watched my youngest deteriorate but knew that we could not give up hope. After searching tirelessly for a psychiatrist with an exceptional reputation, we found ourselves sitting in his office. It is here that we learned about the use of low dose Ketamine in treating anxiety and depression. I of course was initially skeptical as I knew of Ketamine only as the club drug “Special K” and was hesitant to fully trust any treatment for which I knew little about. In reading all of the research that was available and exploring in great depth the experiences of real patients who had received low dose Ketamine for the treatment of depression through the Ketamine Advocacy Network, it became evident that this was a treatment that provided hope when all else had failed.
Today, I remain indebted to and deeply respect the psychiatrist who recommended low dose Ketamine for depression in the treatment of my child’s mental health. The relief was gradual and became quite evident by the sixth infusion. With monthly maintenance infusions, the depression and anxiety are now well controlled and my child has remained medication free for over five months! Side effects have been minimal and short lasting, with slight nausea occurring and a dissociative experience that has proven to be self-reflective in many ways. Though this is a treatment that is administered off-label for the treatment of depression, my professional and personal experiences have guided me in becoming an avid supporter and advocate for Ketamine in the treatment of depression and anxiety. My child successfully completed another year at college and is enjoying life, as all young adults should. As a healthcare provider and a parent of a child who suffers from depression, I aspire to educate both healthcare providers and patients on the use of low dose Ketamine for depression treatment and to provide hope for those suffering from this debilitating disease.
I am always open to share my journey and help others who want to learn more about my personal experiences with low dose Ketamine for the treatment of depression and anxiety as I have witnessed first hand how life changing this treatment can be. Today we need to continue the conversations around mental health and this includes providing education on all treatments available.
This Blog is written by the mother of one of our own Actify patients.