Do you know someone who’s been listless and hopeless for a really long time? More than weeks or even months … someone who’s been taking antidepressants for years, and has never really felt better?
Have you noticed how years of despair affects a person’s outlook so deeply that their personality seems to change?
Take Clare. She began feeling more and more overwhelmed when she was in 8th grade. A string of unfortunate events seemed to pound her down further and further, until she’d lost her ability to recover.
It was as if life formed a dark tunnel around her and she couldn’t face it any more. She started avoiding school because facing it was too hard.
She came to believe it would never, ever get better. And she became volatile at times, and subdued at times. She grew to have a generally defeated attitude, and overreacted to small frustrations.
Treatment – Resistant Depression Leads to Overwhelm and Failure
This once cheerful, go-getter teenage girl withdrew into a place where she could no longer function, no longer face others, no longer spend time with friends.
After high school she tried to go to college, and her psychiatrist changed her medications to something that he hoped would help more.
But she’d try her hardest and do well for a semester, then fail the following semester. So she’d work up all the energy she could to succeed and do well again, then fall apart a few weeks into the next semester.
Eventually, she dropped out of college because her grade point was no longer high enough to stay.
Failure, Despondency, and No Reason to Live
Clare thought about dying often. On a few occasions, her mom or a roommate walked in to find her with a pile of pills in her lap and a big glass of water, about to carry out a plan…
This is what treatment-resistant depression looks like. In the beginning, the despair seems justified after a series of overwhelming or heartbreaking events. But, eventually, the unchanging, unrelenting despair washes away hope. Any reason to live seems to erode away.
Neurotransmitters Play the Culprit
Neuroscientists have discovered that there are multiple brain-based and physical causes for depression. Large networks of neurons can be affected by cascades of inflammation that affect many systems and many neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters are chemicals in the brain that help one part of the brain communicate with other parts. In most cases, the more neurotransmitters in the brain communicate with other areas throughout the brain, the better you feel.
For some people, SSRIs may help. But if they don’t, we start thinking about whether we should try an approach that might stimulate GABA, dopamine, or norepinephrine activity.
In addition, the weeks or months that are required to determine whether an SSRI is effective mean that the one suffering is left to endure in a seemingly untreated state. If you talk to someone who’s been handicapped by crippling depression, and tell them you have a new drug to try, but it may be months before we know if it will help, his response will likely be dripping with despair.
And that despair sometimes ends in loss of life.
Psychiatrists didn’t realize years ago that all depression can’t be successfully treated with SSRIs, so only a portion of the depressed patients they treated were actually being helped.
But, we’re learning.
Thanks to continued study, we’ve learned more and more about what areas of the brain are involved in depression, and the various neurotransmitters that are involved, as well.
Without question, there’s been a critical need for rapidly acting and effective treatments that provide relief for people who suffer from treatment-resistant depression, and have for a long time.
Why IV Ketamine?
And in searching for such treatments, IV ketamine – the decades old anesthesia drug – has risen to the task and is shining.
Because in addition to treating treatment-resistant depression, IV ketamine is also demonstrating its exciting effectiveness in successfully treating bipolar depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, and acute suicidal thinking in about 80% of cases in our clinic.
To take it a step further, the action of IV ketamine with suicidal thinking is independent of the antidepressant action. Many patients receiving IV ketamine infusions find the suicidal thinking disappears before the infusion has even finished!
Never before have we had a medication so fast and effective for people tormented by suicidal thoughts.
So many start ketamine infusion treatments in a dark and despondent place. Then at the end of the infusion, a look of amazement and relief floods their face. And they tell you things like, “this moment is the first time in 7 years” they’ve felt relieved and hopeful.
To me, it’s pretty miraculous.
And if you’re burdened with treatment-resistant depression, bipolar depression, or PTSD, it could feel like a miracle to you, too.
I hope you’ll take the time to read the other articles linked in this post. Information is your link to feeling better.
The more you learn, the more your hope can grow, and the sooner you can take action.
We believe in you, and the life you can live. A fulfilling and satisfying life is possible, with the right treatment.
Make an appointment for a complete evaluation, and let’s work together to find the right treatment for you. We want you better, so you can restore your best self.
To your best self,
Lori Calabrese, M.D.