Here’s why, in the process of figuring out how ketamine works in the brain, scientists have uncovered a completely new molecular pathway involved in clinical depression! This makes it a multifunctional treatment as it has already been approved by the FDA as an anesthetic!
How it works
Ketamine binds to, and thereby inhibits, a receptor in our brain cells called the NMDA receptor, which controls synaptic plasticity and memory function. Inhibition of the NMDA receptor causes anesthetic and antidepressant effects, which was observed when scientists used other compounds to block NMDA receptors as well. However, when researchers used ketamine, they saw that the other NMDA blocking compounds turned off the production of some proteins, but ketamine actually caused the neurons (brain cells) to increase the production of a protein called BDNF (brain derived neurotrophic factor). Also, another difference between ketamine and other NMDA inhibitors is that ketamine only blocks NMDA receptors that are not being used to send a specific signal. Many of these receptors are firing in the background of the brain, and scientists have found a link between mood disorders and this “background noise” that ketamine apparently “resets”.
The amount of infusions needed will vary from patient to patient, but generally, the patient will receive 2 or 3 infusions within four days and then 4 additional infusions over the next two weeks.
- Ketamine helps other sedatives work
- It reduces the need for addictive painkillers
- Ketamine’s rapid effect is one of the main things that differentiates this treatment from typical antidepressants, such as Zoloft or Paxil, which don't expect their patients to show much improvement for a few weeks.
Ketamine in the media
Listed below are some interesting news articles we’ve seen about ketamine.