If you conduct an internet search for all the new research that is out there surrounding Ketamine and the positive effects it has on depression, you might be overwhelmed by what you find. It seems like every other day new and innovative studies are being conducted to understand the mechanisms of how Ketamine works and also how to solidify its place as a go-to treatment option in the mental health realm. So it is of no surprise that a study was recently published that takes a look at the association of Ketamine infusions and subjective happiness as a predictor for treatment-resistant depression outcomes. 

Currently, Ketamine is used to help patients with treatment-resistant depression. These are individuals that do not respond to antidepressants or those where it takes months to achieve a significant effect. Treatment-resistant depression is an incredibly disabling phenomenon for patients and clinicians alike. It adds a layer of frustration on top of an already overwhelming and potentially life-threatening disorder. For these individuals, Ketamine rapidly relieves serious symptoms of depression and reduces suicidality. 

This breakthrough in the use of Ketamine for depression is what is driving the flurry of research. Every angle is being examined, including a new look at how subjective happiness during a Ketamine infusion is linked to a reduction of depressive symptoms (Journal of Clinical Psychiatry). What sets this research apart is that prior studies have looked at clinical predictors of treatment response to Ketamine such as family history. This study on the other hand looks at the subjective psychological experience of a Ketamine infusion and the antidepressant response of the patients. 

Researchers knew going into the study that Ketamine may increase subjective happiness in healthy individuals. In their sample, they had 71 adult patients who were suffering from treatment-resistant depression. From this sample, these patients were randomly assigned to either receive Ketamine or a saline placebo. Researchers then measured happiness during the infusion and found that happiness did predict the antidepressant effect of the Ketamine infusion. 

Additional studies will most likely be needed to validate these findings, but it is another step in the right direction for the use of Ketamine for treatment-resistant depression patients. 

Like with any medication to treat depression, the use of Ketamine needs to be discussed with a healthcare professional. If you or a loved one is suffering from depression, request an appointment with your local Alleviant Health Centers clinic. Don’t wait, our integrated model of care can help you begin healing today. 

About the Author

Kimberly Sandberg Aloha Integrative Health
Kim Sandberg is the owner and founder of Aloha Integrative Health and a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthetist. She has two advanced degrees: a Masters of Science in Nursing as a Nurse Anesthetist and a Doctor of Nursing Practice. She has worked in a variety of settings, though the biggest impact on Kim and her work came from her 28 years of service in the Navy Reserve.

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