As both a healthcare professional and a parent of a child who suffers from treatment resistant depression and anxiety, I have been quite attentive to the changes that arise in an individual after receiving low-dose ketamine. I thought it would be helpful to share my observations with others who are contemplating offering this innovative treatment in their practices or for those that may be exploring ketamine as an option in treating their own depression.
Though low-dose ketamine can alleviate suicidal thoughts immediately and lift an individual from feelings of despair which many have suffered for years, it does not cure one’s depression indefinitely. Ketamine, in my experience, has worked in a way that it offers hope to individuals and provides a new found resilience in dealing with life stressors. As an outsider looking in, I have watched my child develop the drive and passion to discover new approaches to help improve her mental health and overall well-being.
I have been quite focused on my child’s state of mental health since her return back to college and found that the negative thoughts and depression started to creep back with the stressors of being at a demanding college with a heavy workload. The frequent phone calls and texts resumed as did the anxiety and depression. Though the summer proved to be a time of mental stability for my child while working an internship at a prestigious company, it was obvious that the stressors of college were altering this balance. Unfortunately, the extended duration between ketamine infusions had ended. I had sensed that things were beginning to spiral out of control thus recommended monthly ketamine infusions once again.
Coincidentally, a ketamine infusion center had recently opened in the area and the ease of getting an infusion became effortless. The long drives and missing important classwork became a thing of the past. The change from early morning to later that afternoon after receiving a single maintenance ketamine infusion was remarkable to say the least. I was once again reminded of how powerful low-dose ketamine is for many in treating depression and anxiety. The negative thoughts, melancholic demeanor, and non-stop texting subsided. I again saw the drive and passion to conquer the anxiety and depression return. I would not have believed that anything could transform one so quickly had I not witnessed it myself.
It is important to note that I am not advocating that low-dose ketamine alone will cure one’s depression and anxiety in its entirety. As mid-terms approach, anxiety levels have at times been overwhelming for my child and in fact a benzodiazepine was prescribed to help endure this stressful time. I do not look at this as a failure, rather a slight adjustment in helping my child to continue to fight depression and anxiety. Last year a return home the week before mid-terms was necessary as the stress proved to be overwhelming. Ketamine has provided my child with the hope that a normal life is possible with continuous effort finding ways to maintain her mental health. Meditation utilizing healing stones, eating a healthy diet, and attempting to incorporate exercise in day to day routines have all proven to be successful means in helping my child to maintain a sense of balance. A good therapist is also part of the weekly routine. All of these things in combination have contributed to my child’s success in fighting both depression and anxiety. Of course there are still days when anxiety and depression are inescapable. What I have noticed is that my child is able to change the negative mindset and pull out of dark places much quicker and effectively than in the past. Similar to patients who find antidepressants effective, medication alone is not going to completely cure someone if they don’t change the other factors around them that contribute to the depression and anxiety. Low-dose ketamine is the only thing that has ever given my child hope and the ability to function a fairly normal life as any young adult should. Again, I am not saying that ketamine is a miracle drug that will totally cure an individual’s depression, but it is something that will allow one to get to a place where they can once again live life. It is something that I urge others to try when traditional treatment has simply not worked. Depression and anxiety are debilitating mental health illnesses that many people suffer from and low-dose ketamine may be the treatment that will help one establish a more stable sense of well-being.