Most people sing the blues from time to time, when life bears down. Happiness can be elusive, but when it simply disappears, a medical condition known as depression settles in.
Depression doesn’t feel good. Its subjects report an unending sense of despair, hopelessness, and profound sadness. In extreme cases, depression can have a debilitating effect on family, work, and faith.
It might surprise you to know how many people deal with depression on a regular basis. The National Institute of Mental Health provides these alarming statistics:
“In 2015, an estimated 16.1 million adults aged 18 or older in the United States had at least one major depressive episode in the past year. This number represented 6.7% of all U.S. adults
Medications and psychotherapy are the standard, effective treatments for most people suffering from chronic depression.
However, WebMD gives “10 Natural Depression Treatments” which include challenging negative thoughts and regular exercise.
More eye-opening news about treating depression comes from Psychology Today:
“Medication and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) are equally effective in treating depression…Chronic and more severe depression responds better to a combination of medication and therapy.”
To further complicate matters, the Mayo Clinic has identified multiple types of depression, and “disorders that cause depression symptoms.”
On a more positive note, attendees of the 14th annual Medical Innovation Summit at the Cleveland Clinic – more than 2,000 healthcare industry professionals – ranked the most important medical innovations of 2018.
Seventh on their list was determining that an anesthetic called ketamine is effective in treating severe cases of depression, when standard medications fail.
Ketamine is a class III scheduled drug and is approved for use in hospitals and other medical settings as an anesthetic. It was developed in the 1960s, and has been an effective, fast-acting painkiller for humans and other animals.
Ketamine also has a bad reputation as a recreational and “date rape” drug because it can tranquilize, cause hallucinations, and have dissociative effects. Slang terms for the powerful anesthetic include Cat Tranquilizer, Cat Valium, Jet K, Kit Kat, Purple, Special K, Special La Coke, Super Acid, Super K, and Vitamin K
Despite this negative taint, some doctors are using ketamine “off-label,” meaning in ways that haven’t yet been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Researchers are not sure why ketamine works to relieve the symptoms of depression. Patients say it does help – but at what cost? This shocking revelation comes from The Lancet:
“Compelling published study results and case reports exist of patients’ depression—in some cases deeply entrenched depression that has lasted months or even years—alleviating within hours of use of ketamine. However, critics have warned that the drug has not been studied sufficiently (at least outside clinical trials), and also emphasised the cost. Patients can pay more than $1000 per session for treatment that must usually be repeated several times. That cost is rarely covered by the patient’s medical insurance.”
Such is the situation today. But what lies ahead for ketamine?
Time gives victims of depression new-found hope for legal treatment:
“In a race to shape the next generation of antidepressants, Johnson & Johnson and Allergan are fast-tracking new medicines inspired by ketamine. The FDA could be reviewing new drug submissions by as early as next year.”
Now, that’s the kind of news that can turn a frown upside down.