Pete Davidson has revealed that he previously took ketamine to treat his depression.
Pete Davidson has revealed that he previously took ketamine to treat his depression, sparking new interest in the old drug-turned-match mental health therapy.
The Food and Drug Administration approved ketamine for use in 2019 in a very specific form (an inhalable nasal spray) for adults with depression that hasn’t improved with other medications.
That was a pivotal moment. Ketamine’s reputation as a wildly popular drug that launches users into euphoric out-of-body experiences, coupled with uncertainties about how it works in the brain and its designation as a controlled substance, have held back clinical research for decades.
But in the last decade there has been a growing number of studies and a wave of anecdotal reports pointing to the power of ketamine to relieve symptoms of depression, at least in the short term, in less than an hour.
Thousands of ketamine clinics have recently sprung up across the country where people with difficult-to-treat depression can undergo intravenous infusions of a refined version of the drug in a welcoming environment under the watchful eye of a psychiatrist.
Esketamine is a nasal spray version of a potent form of ketamine and has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration to treat depression that has not been relieved by other means such as SSRIs.
Before checking into an inpatient mental health treatment facility earlier this summer, Davidson said he had been receiving ketamine treatments.
He has spoken candidly about his depression stemming from the loss at the age of seven of his father, a New York City firefighter, who was last seen running into the World Trade Center before it collapsed.
The comedian said in 2020: ‘I’m always down, all the time. I have to constantly get out of this.
‘I wake up depressed, but now I know my steps. I have to go out to sunbathe for a while or go for a walk. It is simply a matter of programming yourself to trick your brain.
He was using an FDA-approved spray called esketamine, marketed as Spravato.
It’s more potent than the anesthetic partygoers know and love, but when administered in the presence of a medical professional, it’s been shown to be generally safe.
After the patient receives the infusion, a medical professional monitors the patient for approximately two hours in the office until potential side effects such as dizziness, euphoria, and dizziness subside on their own.
Its approval in 2019 marked a major victory for psychiatry, a field that has struggled to develop new and effective treatments for major depression due to a combination of insufficient research funding and the lengthy trial-and-error process that is part of any clinical studies on medications for depression. and a general lack of innovation.
Not everyone can get ketamine treatment, according to New York-based psychiatrist Dr. Jeff Ditzell, who administers ketamine treatments. There is a lengthy screening process that considers a person’s psychiatric history before determining if they qualify.
In a treatment room at Ditzell’s clinic, patients spend an hour outfitted in a sleep mask while listening to theta brain waves, which are the dominant frequency in healing, heightened creative states, and recall of emotional experiences. . Patients report feeling “high” and many say they have had out-of-body experiences
Many of the leading treatments for depression work in a similar way, since they target the same neurotransmitters, serotonin and neuropinephrine.
These drugs are collectively known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).
While there have been some changes to the formulation of these drugs, they have generally remained stagnant, frustrating mental health professionals and the estimated 21 million Americans living with major depression.
The debut of the nasal spray ketamine was intended to help fill the gap in innovation hampered by years of failed clinical trials.
Ketamine counteracts the symptoms of depression in a completely different way. While conventional treatments increase levels of natural chemicals like serotonin, ketamine increases levels of glutamate, a crucial neurotransmitter for mood regulation, learning, memory, and information processing.
Research on controlled substances as legitimate medical interventions is developing rapidly, generating increased interest in the applications of ketamine, as well as MDMA, or ecstasy, and psilocybin, the psychoactive substance in magic mushrooms.
Findings from a recent study by researchers at Mass General Brigham Hospital in Boston suggested that ketamine infusions worked just as well for treating people’s major depression as “gold standard” electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, enrolled 403 people aged 45 years with treatment-resistant depression. The group was divided into two: half received ECT three times a week, while the rest received intravenous ketamine twice a week for a period of three weeks.
Results showed that both treatments led to relief of depression and improvement in quality of life. And while ECT had several adverse effects, including memory loss and muscle problems, ketamine recipients reported only one side effect: an out-of-body experience at the time of treatment.
Research is still being done on the long-term effects of using ketamine as a treatment for depression. But many people suffering from depression have praised it, including Niki, 52, from Canada, who credited the ketamine treatments with saving her life.
Niki suffered from treatment-resistant depression, as well as seizures, which doctors attributed to anxiety and said nothing could help her. At one point, she was taking 11 pills every day, including anxiolytics and antidepressants, a mood stabilizer and a muscle relaxant. Instead of helping her, Niki said that she “felt like a zombie”.
But after meeting with a doctor for a ketamine session in which she took a ketamine pill followed by an intranasal dose of more ketamine, Niki said the stress on her shoulders lifted, adding: “I felt very comfortable and safe”.
After just a month of weekly sessions, he was able to return to his full-time job.
Ten months later, she can now only use one pill as a maintenance dose once every two months.
His story is not an isolated incident. Researchers at MindPeace Clinics, a ketamine therapy clinic in Arlington, Virginia, just outside Washington, DC, found that more than 70 percent of patients who used the drug within a year had improved mood, and 40 percent reported no symptoms. of depression after 10 routine infusions of the drug.