It’s a scenario that some of us can relate to – a loved one is struggling with bipolar disorder, and no matter what they try, they can’t seem to find relief from the constant highs and lows of their mood. They’ve tried everything from therapy to medication, but nothing seems to work. That’s where ketamine infusion therapy comes in.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is an FDA-approved medication that has been used for decades as an anesthetic. In recent years, it has gained attention for its ability to rapidly treat symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mood disorders.
And according to multiple studies, ketamine infusion therapy has also shown great promise as an alternative treatment for treatment-resistant bipolar depression. So how does ketamine infusion therapy work for bipolar disorder? To understand that, it’s important to first understand how bipolar disorder affects the brain.
Bipolar Disorder at a Glance
Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition characterized by extreme shifts in mood, from manic or hypomanic episodes (characterized by high energy and elevated mood) to depressive episodes (characterized by low energy and depressed mood).
These mood swings can be severe and disruptive to daily life, and traditional treatments like therapy, mood stabilizers, and antidepressants can take weeks or even months to take effect. Unfortunately, bipolar depression is potentially one of the most life-threatening psychiatric conditions and has been associated with high rates of mortality, morbidity, and suicidality.
And like most other psychiatric disorders, it is not always easy to treat bipolar depression – between 20 to 60 percent of people with psychiatric disorders don’t respond to traditional treatments. Fortunately, ketamine has been found to have an amazingly rapid antidepressant effect in people with treatment-resistant depression – including bipolar depression.
Multiple clinical trials have shown that ketamine has the ability to produce rapid antidepressant and antisuicidal effects for people with bipolar depression, both as an adjunct to mood stabilizers and as a stand-alone treatment.
Its rapid antidepressant effects mean that most people will experience relief within hours or days of receiving their first infusion, as opposed to the weeks or months it typically takes for traditional treatments to take effect. This rapid-onset of action could be a lifesaver for those dealing with severe suicidal ideations.
How Does Ketamine Infusion Therapy Work?
Ketamine is thought to work differently than traditional treatments, which generally alter levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. Research has it that ketamine for bipolar disorder works by targeting specific receptors in the brain called NMDA receptors, which regulate glutamatergic neurotransmission and are responsible for mood and emotional regulation.
By activating this receptor, ketamine triggers a process called synaptogenesis, which is the formation of new synaptic connections in the brain, allowing for better communication between neurons. This allows the brain to better regulate mood and emotions – leading to an improved mental state.
Ketamine is also thought to promote neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the brain to change and adapt over time. This means that with repeated use, ketamine can help create more lasting changes in the brain; this could explain its ability to produce sustained relief from symptoms in most patients.
It’s crucial to note that while ketamine infusion therapy may be effective in improving mood and reducing the severity of manic and depressive symptoms, it is not a cure for bipolar disorder.
Is Ketamine Infusion Therapy Safe?
Ketamine infusion therapy is generally considered safe and well tolerated when administered by a trained medical professional in a controlled medical setting. However, as with any medical treatment, there are some potential side effects associated with ketamine infusion therapy.
For ketamine, these side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, mild hallucinations/dissociation, and increased blood pressure. Luckily, they are generally mild and short-lived, and most patients report no long-term issues.
As is evident, ketamine infusion therapy is a safe and highly effective alternative treatment for bipolar depression, with the potential to produce rapid and sustained relief from symptoms.
If you or a loved one has bipolar disorder and can’t seem to find relief from traditional treatments, it may be worth considering ketamine infusion therapy. It could be just what you need to get back on track and live the life you deserve.