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Ketamine is being used as cutting-edge treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder

Dr. Steven Levine
Special to Valley News
According to Mental Health America, one in five adults – 40 million Americans – have a mental health condition.
Within that number, nearly 16 million people suffer from depression and more than 7 million are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder. The two conditions tend to go hand in hand, as those who suffer from PTSD often experience depression in their lives.
Nearly twice as many women suffer from depression than men, and even though PTSD is mostly associated with male soldiers coming back from war, any traumatic event such as a car accident or sexual assault can cause the condition. PTSD is something that men and women must deal with, and it occurs twice as much in women according to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.
While there are dozens of medications to treat depression and PTSD, some of which overlap, most merely cover up the problem.
Many medications work on the assumption that you don’t have enough serotonin in your brain, and if you replace enough of these feel-good hormones, you will feel better.
I am making an effort to treat patients who suffer from depression and PTSD by helping them repair damaged connections in the brain through the use of periodic ketamine infusions in small doses.
Developed in 1962, ketamine was originally used as an anesthetic, but quickly found its way onto the streets as a recreational drug, taking on the name Special K. It has also been used as a tranquilizer for animals such as horses and cats.
As an anesthetic, it’s still considered one of the safest around. But that usually happens in one dose. The unknown is what happens to the brain over time with repeated infusions of ketamine.
Those who may be at risk of cognitive damage are people who abuse it daily or multiple times a week in high doses.
Most of Levine’s patients receive an infusion once a month and also go through traditional talk therapy.
The results have been amazing. In some cases, ketamine has started to alleviate patients’ symptoms after one infusion. Most anti-depressants can take weeks or months to start working.
Extensive research conducted on ketamine at multiple universities in the U.S. and abroad reveal a 75 percent success rate for the treatment.
A recent study at Columbia University has found that ketamine infusions given in a vaccine-like fashion to those embarking upon an environment likely to cause significant stressors – such as soldiers entering a battle or aid workers going to a disaster area – prevented or reduced PTSD symptoms.
Depression and PTSD can cause a lot of pain in people’s lives. I don’t think of ketamine as a magic bullet; it’s a tool. I want patients to eventually feel like they are sailing on their own, and ketamine is merely there as a backup.
Dr. Steven Levine founded Ketamine Treatment Centers in 2011. Though he is a psychiatrist who places great emphasis on the importance of psychotherapy, medication is often a necessary component of treatment, and he was dissatisfied with the relatively ineffective available options with burdensome side effects. Levine pioneered a protocol for the clinical use of ketamine infusions, has directly supervised many thousands of infusions and has helped establish similar programs across the country and around the world. Levine is internationally recognized as an expert in the clinical use of ketamine for mood and anxiety disorders. For more information, visit .
The post Ketamine is being used as cutting-edge treatment for depression, post-traumatic stress disorder appeared first on Valley News .

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