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Ketamine Infusion Therapy for Pain and Depression
Research over the past couple of decades has proven the antidepressive properties of ketamine, which is the basis of ketamine infusion therapy. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved ketamine for inducing anesthesia, but it can also help with managing psychiatric disorders and chronic pain.
Doctors prescribe ketamine for treating depression, bipolar disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), including post-operative and chronic pain. Ketamine infusion therapy is usually not the first treatment option for pain and depression and but it can help when standard treatment options fail.
Application of ketamine infusion therapy for depression
Ketamine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate adversary, when infused intravenously, has been proven to be beneficial for treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder (MDD) with suicidal thoughts, and bipolar depression.
According to a study published by a British team, ketamine is beneficial as monotherapy or adjunctive treatment for depression, especially the treatment-resistant depression due to its rapid rate of efficiency. Since major psychiatric disorders such as MDD are part of the most incapacitating neurological, mental, and substance-abuse related ailments, new treatment methods are being evaluated to treat or interrupt the onset of these disorders.
Ketamine infusion therapy has been used in combination with psychiatric treatment and can provide significant, momentary relief to the symptoms – the long-term effects are still under research. Minimal doses of ketamine can cause rapid and strong (although brief) antidepressive effects, including treatment-resistant patients who are not yielding to electroconvulsive therapy. Studies have shown that ketamine infusion therapy lowers depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts within 30 to 40 minutes in about 60 to 75 percent of patients.
Use for chronic pain treatment
The use of ketamine infusion for treating chronic pain is effective through an interdisciplinary, multimodal, patient-centered approach. Ketamine is beneficial for managing chronic pain in many disorders, including ischemic limb pain, complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), fibromyalgia, phantom limb pain, and other neuropathic conditions.
Ketamine has also been proven to treat anxiety and depression caused by chronic pain and other chronic conditions. As a principle of the multimodal approach, doctors use ketamine infusion therapy as a first or second option in treating neuropathic pain, regardless of the cause. Since the potential lasting effects on the memory and cognitive functions in chronic pain patients yet requires more study, ketamine infusion therapy is only used for patients with treatment-resistant neuropathic pain, as it is with refractory CRPS pain.
Ketamine infusion therapy may be applied as an opiate substitution for cancer pain, majorly from neuropathic causes, and may sometimes help for treating patients who cannot handle opioids or those facing issues with opioid responsiveness. Ketamine can lower the severity and occurrence of opioid side effects, which is a critical factor in patient compliance. For instance, the opioid-ketamine combination may prove beneficial for non-neuropathic pain or in cases of mixed nociceptive/neuropathic pain.
Still under research
The clinical application of ketamine infusion therapy for depression and pain management is continually evolving. Additional research on this topic is necessary for more information on its effectiveness.
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