Another way IV Ketamine SMASHES depression
Sometimes news is so hot it sizzles.
It lures you away from whatever you’re into. It captivates you. And then — just face it — you think to yourself, with admiration, OMG. You say to yourself … whoever came up with that is brilliant. They nailed it.
Well, Mark Rasenik and his group from the University of Illinois Chicago College of Medicine nailed it. They presented absolutely breathtaking work in May at the SBP meeting — the Society of Biological Psychiatry. It’s the meeting where research is presented that is just so brilliantly conceived and executed that it’s mind-blowing.
Rasenik’s work is like that.
He and his group came in from left field with their brilliant discovery of a new way ketamine works which just might explain how and why it can begin to lift depressive symptoms in minutes.
Understand ketamine’s talents, then get creative
The goal was to learn what happens on a molecular level that causes IV ketamine’s fast depression relief. Because, of course, someone wants to design a drug just as effective as ketamine but without its side effects. This is the ever-loving quest for new drugs that wannabe like ketamine.
Now, we’ve talked before about how IV ketamine acts on synapses to stimulate them to grow, branch out, and flourish — multiplying the numbers of connections between neurons that send signals deep into the brain. We’ve also talked about neuroplasticity, and how it’s key to this process that causes the brain to change.
As new synaptic connections are built, and greater communication between brain cells develops, the brain gains the ability to see things in a different perspective, and your outlook becomes brighter and healthier. IV ketamine can jump start that process. Wait. No. It can turbo-charge it.
How to Get Those G’s Back to Work
So Rasenik and his team found that “g proteins” were packed on “lipid rafts” in the cell membrane with people who are depressed. In addition, their brain cell signaling is stifled, which may be the cause of that numbness depressed people experience.
If this is you, listen up. Numbness is no joke.
They’ve demonstrated that when SSRI antidepressants are used, they move g proteins from lipid rafts (I love that visual…like the G’s are languidly floating on a raft in the pool…taking time off being lazy) very gradually, and back into WORK mode. Which is how SSRI’s help some people who are depressed — but it takes weeks or months for relief.
You see, G proteins produce cyclic AMP, which is vital for the nerve cells to properly send their signals.
And, Rasenick and his team noted that the movement of the G proteins under the influence of SSRI antidepressants, was gradual … over a period of several days.
So, let’s take a breath here.
The Many Talents of IV Ketamine
We’ve talked about how IV ketamine stimulates neurons to flourish, grow branches, and become prolific with healthy connections for sending signals throughout the brain, especially into the deep brain structures like the hippocampus.
Now, Dr. Rasenick and his team have discovered that IV ketamine also gathers up the tools the nerve cells need so they actually can send signals throughout this new and bountiful network of connections, or synapses.
Those unemployed g proteins that were hanging out on the rafts, are pulled off the rafts and put to work to equip the brain cells to do their job.
And they work fast.
Remember how it takes several days for the g proteins to move off the rafts with an SSRI? Well, with IV ketamine, it happens in 15 minutes!!
So … do you see why ketamine acts so fast to remove suicidal thinking and depression?
I’m telling you, the more we know about IV ketamine, the more hope explodes with all of its potential.
Letting Go of OLD Ideas
There’s been a belief for years that ketamine’s one action was to block NMDA receptors. (Boy, does that seem like the dark ages now!) But ketamine is the only drug that blocks NMDA receptors AND moves g proteins off lipid rafts. It’s a double whammy, a one-two punch!
Once again, ketamine shows its highly targeted prowess in its assault on depression and its potential for assault on other psychiatric disorders.
In addition, ketamine and other compounds like it, improve glutamate levels, which SSRIs really don’t touch. When the processing of glutamate doesn’t function properly, that also contributes to depression.
So…wait a minute…that’s three actions ketamine uses to turn depression on its ear!
Oh, and the fourth: it turns on mRNA … to turn on DNA … to make more BDNF (Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor) so that neurons grow new branches.
The Four Ways. Four different ways that ketamine smashes depression. This has brought a level of excitement into psychiatry like nothing else.
Someone should write a book.
A full 80% of those who are treated with IV ketamine infusions in our office respond, and many of those achieve complete remission of their symptoms. But, I’ve said before that it isn’t for everyone. If it’s not for you, we have other treatments like TMS to help you get better.
If you have symptoms of depression (chronic, recurrent, bipolar, postpartum), PTSD, and treatment-resistant OCD and have not been helped by anti-depressants, call or email us to arrange an appointment for a consultation. We’ll thoroughly check you out, and analyze what we learn, to determine the treatment most likely to truly help you feel better. I don’t mean to reduce your current symptoms, but to actually get well.
We’re Innovative Psychiatry. (Um, you’d have to be to translate lipid rafts and g proteins into treatment that works in your office … ) And we’ll work with you to find the best steps that will help you get well and live the life you want to live.
To the discovery of your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.