Pete Davidson has revealed that he has previously taken ketamine to treat his depression
Pete Davidson has revealed that he has previously taken ketamine to treat his depression, sparking new interest in the former party drug turned mental health therapy.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the use of ketamine in 2019 in a very specific form, an inhalable nasal spray for adults with depression that hasn’t been helped by other medications.
That was a pivotal moment. Ketamine’s reputation as an exciting drug that launches users into euphoric out-of-body experiences, coupled with uncertainties about how it affects the brain and its designation as a controlled substance, has held back clinical research for decades.
But over the past decade, a growing number of studies and a spate of anecdotal reports have emerged that emphasize ketamine’s power to provide at least short-term relief from symptoms of depression in less than an hour.
Thousands of ketamine clinics have recently sprung up nationwide where people with hard-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 for the treatment of depression that has not been relieved by other means such as SSRIs
Before entering an inpatient mental health treatment facility earlier this summer, Mr Davidson said he received ketamine treatments.
He has spoken candidly about his depression resulting from the loss at age seven of his father, a New York City firefighter, who was last seen racing into the World Trade Center before it fell into disrepair.
The comedian said in 2020, ‘I’m always depressed, all the time. I constantly have to get myself out of this situation.
“I wake up depressed, but now I know my steps. I have to go out and stay in the sun for a while, or take a walk. It’s all just programming you to trick your brain.
He was using the FDA-approved spray called esketamine, marketed as Spravato.
It’s more potent than the anesthetic party-goers know and love, but when given in the presence of a doctor, it has been shown to be safe overall.
After the patient has received the infusion, a doctor monitors him for about two hours in the office until possible side effects such as dizziness, euphoria and lightheadedness 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 it makes. part of any clinical trial of depression drugs. and a general lack of innovation.
Not everyone can get ketamine treatment, according to New York 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 are eligible
In a treatment room at Ditzell’s clinic, patients spend an hour fitted with a sleep mask while listening to theta brainwaves, which are the dominant frequency in healing, highly creative states, and remembering emotional experiences. Patients report feeling “high,” and many claim to have had out-of-body experiences
Many of the leading treatments for depression work in a similar way by targeting 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 in the formulation of these drugs, overall they have stagnated, frustrating mental health professionals and the approximately 21 million Americans living with severe depression.
The debut of nasal spray ketamine aimed to fill the innovation gap hampered by years of failed clinical trials.
Ketamine counters the symptoms of depression in a completely different way. While conventional treatments increase levels of naturally occurring chemicals like serotonin, ketamine increases levels of a glutamate, a neurotransmitter crucial for mood regulation, learning, memory and information processing.
Research into controlled substances as legitimate medical interventions is developing rapidly, prompting increased interest in the applications of ketamine, MDMA, or ecstasy, and psilocybin, the psychoactive chemical found 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 in treating people’s major depression as the gold standard electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, enrolled 403 people aged 45 who suffered from treatment-resistant depression. The group was split in half, one half receiving ECT three times a week while the rest were given ketamine via intravenous drip twice a week over a three week period.
The results showed that both treatments led to an alleviation of depression and an improvement in quality of life. And while ECT had several adverse effects such as memory loss and muscle problems, subjects who received ketamine reported only one side effect, an out-of-body experience at the time of treatment.
Research into the long-term effects of using ketamine as a treatment for depression is still ongoing. But many depression sufferers have sung its praises, including Niki, 52, from Canada, who credited ketamine treatments for saving her life.
Niki suffered from treatment-resistant depression and seizures, which doctors attributed to anxiety and said nothing could help. At one point she was taking 11 pills every day, including anti-anxiety and antidepressant drugs, a mood stabilizer and a muscle relaxant. Instead of helping her, Niki said 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 weighing on her shoulders dissipated, adding: I was so comfortable and I felt safe.’
After just a month of weekly sessions, she was able to return to her full-time job.
Ten months later, he now uses only one pill as a maintenance dose once every two months.
His story is not an isolated episode. 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 over a year experienced improvements in mood, while 40% reported no symptoms. of depression after 10 routine infusions of the drug.
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