Nick walked in after school, slamming the door behind him.
His mom looked up, startled by the noise. “What’s that dirty look about..?? You’re so judgmental!!” Nick was fuming, and with that he headed upstairs. His mom followed him upstairs and spoke softly, knowing her son was apparently volatile. She didn’t realize that what just happened could be repaired by ketamine restoration in the amygdala.
“Nicholas, I’m sorry my face looked judgmental. I wasn’t feeling judgmental…I was startled by the noise the door made, and concerned that you seemed so upset. Did something happen..?”
He didn’t know why he misread his mom, or why he was so angry. Nick hated himself for being hateful. He just felt so angry so much of the time, and when he wasn’t angry, he just wanted to cry… what was wrong with him?
“Sorry, mom. I thought you were mad about me slamming the door. I have a lot of homework and I just don’t want to do it. It all seems pointless.”
Nick’s mom knew he’d been under a cloud since the last school year. He was seeing a psychiatrist, which he always dreaded. The medications didn’t seem to be helping, in spite of the fact he was on his third different medicine.
He’d all but refused to see the therapist any more. As his mom, she just wanted him to feel better and enjoy his adolescent life, but she was hitting a wall. All she knew to do was to encourage him to keep trying and to provide a little comfort where she could.
“Why don’t you come downstairs, and I’ll make you a sandwich. Eating something might help your homework seem a little easier to face.”
Ketamine Restoration in the Amygdala
While Nick ate, he decided to mention to his mom what his buddy in History had told him.
“Mom, you know Zach? He’s been down for a long time…even longer than me. He told me today that he’s getting IV ketamine treatment. He said he took pills for a year and they didn’t help, no matter what brand the doctor ordered. Anyway, his dad read about this treatment, and Zach says it’s already helping.”
“Really Nicholas? Does his doctor give him the treatment?”
“No, he said his dad is taking him to a different psychiatrist who does it. He says his own doctor is all for it. He’ll go for two or three weeks and he’ll be done. So far, he’s finished the first week. I can tell he’s doing better. He smiles and laughs. It’s weird. But I also envy him…”
Three months later, Nick walked in the door, smiling ear to ear.
“Hi Mom. Since it’s Friday, is it ok for me to go to a movie tonight with Zach and Tim? Oh and by the way, Chelsea said she’ll go to prom with me.”
“Oh that’s fantastic, Nicholas! I’m so glad she said yes. She’ll be on the arm of the nicest and best looking guy at school! And sure, the movie’s fine. Zach and Tim are great guys.”
IV ketamine restoration in the amygdala can make all the difference.
Depression Can Impair the Amygdala’s Ability to Process Faces
To the casual observer, this may all sound a little too easy. And for some people, it might be. Everyone’s different. But for most people like Zach and Nicholas, their misery is reversed by a series of 6 IV ketamine infusions, sometimes a few more.
And in some cases supplements are needed to address low blood levels of certain hormones or nutrients first. But, when you consider the comparison of that to years of traditional antidepressants that aren’t working, it’s an easy choice.
On top of that, the prospect of joy – and hope – in place of the damaged relationships caused by a short temper, a hopeless outlook, and absent motivation, is again…an easy choice.
Humans like to feel good. When you don’t, you’re not very pleasant to be around, you know? Is there anything that makes you feel worse than severe, unrelenting depression complicated by anxiety and phobias? It’s misery.
And the thing is, it colors the way you see everything. You can be looking in someone’s face who’s just preoccupied, and interpret their expression as angry, critical, irritable… then you snap at them about it, and they feel attacked from out of nowhere.
Guess what? There’s a scientific reason you do that. It’s not just your imagination. And the good news is that IV ketamine treatment actually changes something deep in your brain to help you interpret their facial expression for what it’s intended to be.
To understand this, we need to talk about the a wonderful structure in the brain called the amygdala.
Ketamine Restoration in the Amygdala
The amygdala consists of 2 almond shaped structures deep in the sides of the brain at the temporal lobe. It’s one part of the limbic system which processes emotion, records emotional memories, influences behavior, motivation, and the sense of smell, as well.
One key job the amygdala performs is helping you to look at facial expressions in others and determine their emotion. For instance, if you see someone frowning, with their face tense and lips tight, do you assume they’re happy? Of course not. It’s your amygdala that sees their expression and determines they may be angry.
Well, when someone is suffering from a disorder like severe depression or bipolar depression, their amygdala may be malfunctioning.
Study Explores Ketamine’s Effect on Amygdala Function
So recently, a team of researchers led by Joana R.A. Loureiro in Los Angeles and Chicago set out to study what effect two rapid acting depression treatments have on the amygdala’s ability to accurately process facial expressions. Using functional MRIs (fMRI) they tested 44 adults who were all experiencing an episode of severe depression.
They divided the group into two parts: 17 subjects were given an individualized number of treatments of ECT and 27 were given IV ketamine infusions 2 or 3 times a week until they had received 4 infusions.
This was an interesting approach because both forms of treatment affect brain function and emotional processing, so they wanted to see if it worked at the level of the brain cells.
Since interpreting the facial expressions of others is such an important part of social functioning, they focused on the subjects’ ability to accurately do that. The subjects were tested by the task of matching emotional faces on a screen. If the face at the top of the screen was smiling, they needed to match the face at the bottom of the screen that was also smiling.
They found that both modes of treatment improved the accuracy of the subjects’ amygdala function.
When Depression Impairs – Ketamine Repairs
Now, about the type of scenario that Nicholas and his mom experienced. At the moment he walked in the door he believed he saw criticism and judgment in her facial expression, when her look was actually surprise and concern.
When someone is severely depressed, it’s as though they have an affinity for negative feelings and beliefs. So, when they see a facial expression that appears negative to them, it goes to the bone. They feel it so deeply and lightening fast.
It’s easy to see that this type of misinterpretation and reaction only further damages relationships that are already fragile when someone is severely depressed.
And even though both ECT and ketamine improved the amygdala’s function, ECT is a treatment that carries some bias and even stigma for its side effects and history.
And there’s another life-changing benefit ketamine can provide:
This in-depth study shows yet another way that depression impairs your function, and how ketamine treatment can restore it better than ever.
Reach Out for Ketamine Restoration in the Amygdala – And Get Your Joy Back
At Innovative Psychiatry, want to help you feel a lot better than just “less depressed.” We want you to experience joy, a song in your heart, hope for the future, and energized motivation to build the life you want, with healthy and strong relationships.
It’s almost like using a car jack to crank up your life and replace the pain and loss with new ideas, new projects, new joy in relationships.
If you can relate to Nick, and you want to feel joyful and able to care about others as you put your best foot forward, call us.
We want to work with you and your healthcare team to help you experience extraordinary relief.
Reach out now for hope.
To the restoration of your very best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.