IV Ketamine Infusions Restore
Jacob couldn’t remember the last time he was really at his best self. He’d struggled from day to day since he was about 4. Getting out of bed, getting dressed, and going to school, from first grade through high school… every day had been awful and just exhausting. As he got out of the car for school each day, he’d look at his mom with pain in his eyes–and then drag himself into school, throughout his day, and through the night.
His parents didn’t know how to help. They talked with him and tried to do things that would cheer him up. But his inner pain seemed suffocating, and they felt helpless.
One day when he was 14, they found him on the floor behind the sofa, wedged against the wall in a fetal position.
He just disconnected…ran out of the energy to endure any longer…from the dead emptiness inside. The anxiety. All of it.
He thought about how to end his life every day. Some days he was obsessed with visual images of that final act.
His doctor prescribed an SSRI, an SNRI, and then different combinations of medications, but none of them worked. Not really.
Eventually he refused to take any more, or attend any more therapy sessions.
School was something he just endured, or avoided, until he graduated.
College was a roller coaster–and life had been too hard for too long. He was exhausted. Isolated. Disinterested. And he eventually dropped out.
A Drug Called Ketamine
Then he read an article online about a drug called ketamine that was helping people recover from severe depression.
And he started looking for more information about it–studies, information, and just about anything he could find about this anesthesia-turned-club-drug-turned-antidepressant.
He found a few interesting articles, a few sensational titles, a lot of talk…and fascinating research that had been going on for years on using IV ketamine infusions to restore life for people with severe depression.
Was it possible there was a treatment for crippling depression and anxiety that could work when nothing else did?
His parents were pretty skeptical. They looked for hard science, research studies he could participate in, or a doctor he could see who knew something about this kind of treatment.
Turns out it’s pretty hard to find a psychiatrist who gets the devastation of depression and anxiety and hopelessness. One who can sift through the complexities, discuss the risks and benefits of all of the available treatment options, in order to provide the best possible options for someone whose symptoms just haven’t gone away.
Jacob’s first infusion of ketamine was extraordinary. The terrible heaviness that had weighed him down since he was four lifted for the first time about half way through the infusion.
And when his parents met up with him, they saw a lightness in his expression that they hadn’t seen in years. His treatments continued…his symptoms faded.
He had missed most of his childhood, and he spent most of his young adulthood wanting to die. But when IV ketamine infusions restored his ability to enjoy and experience beauty in life, it changed everything. He couldn’t believe it, but he actually wanted to live now. And was so glad he could.
How Effective Are IV Ketamine Infusions?
Before we go on, it’s important we point out that ketamine infusions don’t work for everyone. Every one’s brain is different. Everyone’s needs are different. And for some people, IV ketamine infusions don’t work.
But we see a lot of Jacobs.
Because IV ketamine infusion therapy does produce remarkable results in 80% of patients who have suffered with treatment-resistant depression, and the terrible, persistent depressive episodes in bipolar disorder, and for large numbers of patients with unrelenting anxiety disorders.
What is it about ketamine that delivers such dramatic, fast results? How does it affect your brain that it causes this wonderful, fresh relief…?
First, let’s talk about growth factors. The brain has its own special growth factor, called BDNF–brain-derived neurotrophic factor. That growth factor is like really rich, earthy compost. And we think that one of the really remarkable things about ketamine is that it turns on signals and opens up pathways so that the brain begins to manufacture and release more BDNF.
This is kind of radical news.
Most people don’t know that the brain continues to grow new cells all throughout life–and when there is rich compost, these cells, called neurons, grow new branches, and form more and more connections.
The Role of Glutamate
Glutamate is the most prolific neurotransmitter in the body. It operates throughout higher levels of the brain, so it’s especially effective in a widespread and quick proliferation of synapses. It causes them to branch like trees in fast motion, creating a virtual forest producing abundant relief, especially in a part of the brain called the mPFC (the medial prefrontal cortex).
Some neurotransmitters bring a calming balance to the brain and mood, others bring a stimulated excited balance. Serotonin is one of the calming ones… Glutamate is one that excites the neurons.
Because glutamate is so prolific and widespread, when it’s stimulated to increase, the impact on mood is fast to take hold and spread.
Now, when uptake of glutamate from the synapses is disturbed or blocked, you experience less of the feelings of reward…like for instance the enjoyment of a sunrise, or the fragrance of a rose. This impaired ability to “enjoy” is a symptom of depression.
However, and this is great news, when glutamate is released, there’s a prolific blooming and branching of synapses, which quickly connect different parts of the brain to each other. It’s almost like watching a film in fast motion as the synapses branch into more and more neural connections. The result is a rapid improvement in communication between networks of cells in the brain. And your ability to feel good quickly improves.
So how to get glutamate to be released??
Enter IV ketamine.
Ketamine Stimulates Budding New Branches in Brain Cells
Low dose IV ketamine infusions cause a burst of glutamate.
Those bursts of glutamate trigger the branching of dendrites (the branches on the tree) and the budding of bunches of synapse communication junctions, and in a short time, you feel better and better.
So how does it do that? We think that IV ketamine infusions cause bursts of glutamate that very quickly stimulate AMPA receptors, which activate calcium channels, which lead to the release of BDNF (good compost), which turns on the mTOR pathway, which — voila! — increases protein synthesis right in the brain. Neurons are made of protein. So dendrites branch. Synapses form.
New growth. New connections. Not just in the structure of your brain but in the very fabric of your life.
Psychiatrists get really excited about these things. You should get super excited, too. Geez.
Think of a brain cell like a tree in springtime that explodes with the stretching and unfurling of new branches, new growth, new buds, all stretching towards the sun. That’s what happens. If you have been so tied up in knots, wound up with tension and anxiety, and deadened to the joy of life…you can feel your shoulders relax for the first time in years.
Second, a study by the National Institute of Mental Health in August of 2015, revealed that ketamine reduces suicidal thoughts, as an independent and parallel benefit to the antidepressant effect it provides. And studies at Yale, Oxford, NIMH, Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine and New York’s Mount Sinai School of Medicine provided overwhelming evidence of the remarkable effectiveness ketamine demonstrates against treatment-resistant depression.
Because of glutamate, and the richness of BDNF, and the fast-growing synapses branching out on neurons throughout the prefrontal cortex, causing relief to bloom along with them.
Breakthrough Innovative Treatment
Isn’t this amazing?
If you’ve suffered from depression, or bipolar depression…or crippling anxiety, you KNOW how amazing this is.
You’ve known the desperation, misery, and despair.
Maybe you’ve forgotten what it’s like to feel good, or even to feel ok.
You’ve lost touch with enjoying yourself.
But all that can change now.
Now you can feel good in ways you’ve forgotten.
Find your love of music, or art, or reading.
You can feel again.
Because of glutamate.
Because of flourishing synapses.
And because of ketamine.
Let us help.
Call us for a thorough evaluation so we can discuss innovative treatment options for you. IV ketamine infusions restore your ability to enjoy your life, and we’ll help you with whatever it takes to accomplish that.
To the emerging of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, MD