Can you say PHENOMENAL???
Let’s hear it for Ketamine Treatment and Oxford!!
I just returned from a history-making global conference focused on research and clinical evidence for ketamine for psychiatric disorders. Experts from nearly every continent spoke of their own data and evidence from this emerging field of the the science behind ketamine and the extraordinary help ketamine treatment provides. The entire room was held spellbound for three days, from the first word spoken until the final applause Friday afternoon. It was an unforgettable event in the most beautiful and historic venue at Wadham College, Oxford, UK.
A 400-Year-Old Chandelier in a 400-Year-Old Room
In the 1650’s, a group of individuals including such celebrated thought leaders as Robert Hooke, Robert Boyle, Christopher Wren, and Thomas Willis began an “Experimental Philosophy” club where the fundamental premise required that orthodox thought was rejected and the world was viewed through the “broadened lens of experimental scrutiny.”
Well, this club became the Royal Society when members of the family of King Charles II got involved. When that happened, the revolutionary became the norm.
It seems only fitting that this international conference on the revolutionary breakthroughs for treating psychiatric disorders should be held in this same building, and on these same grounds.
Rupert McShane chaired this ground-breaking event. Hats off to him for beginning what we hope will become an annual international conference.
Luminaries in the Ketamine Adventure
Gerard Sanacora, a frontline researcher for ketamine treatment in psychiatry, spoke first. He previously served as the lead researcher of the American Psychiatric Association Counsel of Research Taskforce for Novel Biomarkers and Treatments which published a consensus statement about ketamine for this purpose in mid-2017.
Dr. Sanacora kicked off the conference with an overview of the literature and key studies that have explored ketamine’s mechanism of action in treating psychiatric disorders. It was brilliant!
We’ve been keeping you informed about some of those in recent times … but there was so much more that was discussed.
Luminaries all around! We were graced with Peter Somogyi and David Lodge whose seminal work on NMDA and axoaxonic cells paved the way. Many of the top ketamine researchers and clinicians in the world presented their findings: Colleen Loo, Jennifer Southgate, Nuri Farber, Steve Levine, David Feifel, Declan McLoughlin, Haggai Sharon, Alison McInnes, Samuel Wilkinson, Michael Grunebaum, Elias Dakwar, Rupert McShane, Raquel Bennett, Karen Lascelles, Jeffrey Becker, Ian Anderson, Gordon Fernie, James Stone, Meng Lei, and Dan Iosifescu. Jose Miyar covered regulatory issues. Jonn Donello and Suresh Durgam discussed new breakthrough findings for the mechanism of action of Rapastine, and Jaz Singh presented new data about the safety and efficacy of esketamine.
And of course, the extraordinary international collaborative teams involved in all of this work … the freshness of perspective emerging across the field — from doe-eyed young researchers to seasoned principal investigators … the breadth and energy of molecular, cellular, neuroimaging, and clinical work represented in the posters.
Breathtaking doesn’t do it justice.
We talked about everything ketamine from mice to men … and from chandelier cells (just as gorgeous as the chandeliers King George IV gifted to Wadham College for the Holywell Music Room) to psychotherapy.
How fitting that we heard about paradigm shifts in the very room where Handel and Haydn first played! Raquel Bennet, Founder of KRIYA Institute, explored the importance of the dissociative experience as transformative, and the many ways ketamine has been used in clinical practice.
Biologically to induce neuronal plasticity (we talked about this before), as a sort of lubricant to enhance psychotherapy, and to deliberately induce dissociation … which can be transformative for the patient.
Jeffrey Becker offered us an elegant unifying hypothesis for ketamine in clinical practice, exploring the GABAergic interneurons and Jungian archetypes in treating people with depression.
The depth and breadth of this conference was amazing. The sheer richness of talents in the room, the knowledge and experience gathered into this one place from all over the world. Everyone talked about how much more we need to learn, and the questions that still need to be answered.
Ketamine for Psychiatric Disorders – Global Conference! Stunning.
These were basic scientists, principle investigators, neurimaging experts, clinical researchers, psychiatrists, anesthesiologists, psychologists … it’s astonishing to realize the scope of interest and exploration there is in perfecting this most remarkable treatment to help you get better.
When you feel depressed, deeply and severely … or when your vigilance and terror from PTSD is tearing apart your family … or when bipolar disorder rips you apart … It can feel like you’re all alone and no one out there cares. You know you don’t know the solutions. So you feel like you’re relying on scientists to figure out the solutions … but … is anyone really trying to help you?
This is why I tell you about this conference. This sharing of data, preliminary findings, hypotheses, results… just to show you there are people all around the world who explore the solutions to your pain, and work on solutions for you … and others like you … as feverishly as they can. They care. And they’re dedicated to learning more and more. All to help you.
As for me, I presented data from my clinical practice. It demonstrates that ketamine can be used to stop suicidal thoughts. And it happens often in a real-world outpatient clinical practice. What’s more, it provides an alternative to hospitalization.
Someone recently mentioned to me that he predicts the excitement over ketamine will fade away.
Of course, he’d probably read negative media accounts and had probably missed the science … and all the studies. But I have to say, I wish he and others who share that “doom and gloom” outlook could have been present to hear all the extraordinary work going on with ketamine and related compounds.
It seems pretty clear to me: ketamine treatment is going to be with us a good while.
Ketamine Can Make Antidepressants Work Better for Hospitalized Patients
Declan McLoughlin spoke of his study in Dublin using ketamine to try to prolong remission after ECT. He also explained his work using ketamine as an additional treatment combined with antidepressants for hospitalized patients in Dublin.
These are just examples. But they don’t even scratch the surface of all the topics covered these three days last week.
There’s no question that ketamine treatment has a long way to go to reach “mainstream status.” Everyone in the upper echelons of research and practice seems to agree we need to know so much more. The more we learn the more questions arise that we need answers to. But we know so much more than we did even two years ago.
This is the breakthrough we’ve wished for … depressed and anxious people, suicidal people, people wracked with PTSD, or torn by bipolar disorder, trapped by OCD. This is what you’ve yearned for. So have I. Many say this is the greatest breakthrough in fifty years in psychiatry. But we can go further than that.
This is the best, life-changing breakthrough for people who suffer with psychiatric mood disorders EVER.
There is so much more to learn…so much! Ketamine is the new frontier in psychiatry and the treatment of psychiatric mood disorders and more.
Ketamine for Psychiatric Disorders like Substance Use Disorders
One more story I have to tell you about. Elias Dakwar (we’ve talked about his work) discussed his research with ketamine in treating substance use disorders. You might remember our post on crack cocaine use in February.
We talked about how Dakwar and his team studied responses of crack cocaine users. Those who were currently using and had no intention of stopping. When they had been given ketamine infusions the day before being offered either crack or money, they had the motivation to turn and choose money, and their craving was so diminished that they also had the power to turn down crack.
That brings up something we’ve talked about here: that ketamine restores initiative and motivation.
All in all, this conference gathering of great scientific minds, young researchers, and brilliant clinicians was a huge step forward for the needs of depressed and anxious people. A huge step forward for the use of ketamine in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.
Research is ongoing to test ketamine’s use with psychotherapy, ECT, TMS, and traditional antidepressants. Plus, its effectiveness intravenously, intramuscularly, subcutaneously, orally, and intranasally.
Now we’ve all gone back to our home offices, and our work will continue. And this time next year I hope we’ll see that ketamine’s advantages have taken another big step forward.
Meanwhile, at Innovative Psychiatry, we’re still here providing IV ketamine treatment. And we see life-changing results with it for people with treatment-resistant depression, bipolar depression, social anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, and suicidal thoughts.
If you’re suffering from a mood or anxiety disorder, treatment hasn’t helped, I’m sure you’re far more concerned about your desire to feel better and function again, than about a conference. And that’s why we’re here and want to help. We try to offer you the best that the world has to offer. This time from the first International Conference for Ketamine and Related Compounds.
There is hope. You can feel truly better.
So don’t judge your next treatment by the ones you’ve had before. This time, chances are, you’ll see a difference. And you’ll remember how to live again.
To your life and the emerging of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, MD