Trigger Warning: The following story mentions suicide. Proceed with caution. If you feel you are at risk and need help, skip the story and get help now. Options include: Calling the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-TALK (8255), calling 911, and calling a friend or family member to stay with you until emergency medical personnel arrive to help you.
Depression affects 350 million individuals worldwide. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in six people will be affected by depression at least once in their lifetime. While many depressed people find relief with traditional antidepressants and psychotherapy, it’s quite a different story for those with treatment-resistant depression.
People with severe treatment-resistant depression often also suffer from suicidal thoughts. For these individuals, traditional treatment options are often ineffective.
However, a new fast-acting depression treatment option has been approved by the FDA, offering hope to those who need it most.
Ketamine’s Cousin Now FDA-Approved
The US Food and Drug Administration has approved an esketamine drug for treatment-resistant depression. The Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies’ drug—to be sold under the name Spravato—is a chemical cousin to ketamine, the anesthetic drug popularly used in clubs as a date rape drug.
The drug will only be available as a nasal preparation and must be administered in a clinical facility under medical supervision. Unlike tradition antidepressants which can take weeks to become fully effective, the newly-FDA-approved esketamine treatment option acts rapidly and is effective in treating those who find no relief from other treatment options. Patients will receive esketamine once a week for a period of four weeks, and then as needed afterward.
But, are there side effects?
Esketamine Side Effects
It seems that every drug comes with its own list of side effects, and esketamine is no different in this respect. Possible side effects include:
- Increased blood pressure
- Feelings of being “disconnected” from one’s mind or body
Due to the potential risk of sedation-related complications for individuals prescribed the esketamine drug, patients will be required to undergo monitoring for two hours after each dose. Also important to note is the “Boxed warning” designed to alert patients of such issues as:
- Impaired attention
- Impaired thinking and judgment
- Suicidal thoughts
- Suicidal behaviors or actions
Depression Treatment or Addiction Trigger?
While the esketamine treatment method promises hope for millions coping with treatment-resistant depression, the dangers associated with ketamine’s history as a street drug may be problematic for recovering addicts. Per guidelines, the drug will be tightly controlled in order to minimize the risk of abuse.
Is the risk worth it? For anyone suffering from major treatment-resistant depression, it may be the only treatment that works.
If you or someone you know may be at risk for suicide, immediately seek help. You are not alone.