Suicidal woman suffering from bipolar, depression gets relief from ketamine; is it a safe drug?

Suicide is one of the leading causes of death and disability across the world. More than 41,000 people commit suicide in the United States alone every year, as per the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). Demographically, women are twice as likely as men to attempt suicide due to a range of factors. According to experts, mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or substance abuse are also among the major risk factors that lead to suicidal ideation.

For example, Gabrielle Idlet, 47, who suffered from severe depression and bipolar disorder — reportedly as a fallout of sexual abuse as a child at the hands of a family friend — had been contemplating suicide. “I was rapid cycling with bipolar, which means you wound up in high pitched states of anxiety and agitation, sometimes combined with suicidal ideas,” she was quoted as saying in a report. She was desperately looking for help and tried all conventional and homeopathic treatments, but to no avail. Her symptoms did not improve.

Idlet then tried ketamine. After eight shots, her symptoms began to improve surprisingly, and she started to record her signs of healing. The relatively low-cost treatment was injected to her and she would feel nice within 20 minutes. “I felt better – just generally happier. The experience itself can be really meaningful, even before it starts working on your brain,” she said.

Ketamine to treat bipolar, depression

Even though ketamine is popular among partygoers who consume the drug to get an out-of-body experience and disconnect from the reality, the drug is equally popular for its anesthetic and analgesic properties. Besides, the drug is also gaining popularity in the U.S. for its off-label use to treat serious mental health condition like severe depression.

Researchers, in the past, had identified that the commonly used antidepressants were eventually failing to alleviate symptoms of depression and did not offer the desired relief to patients. Hence, they experimented with ketamine and found that it has the potential to reduce the symptoms significantly within hours of use. Explaining the properties and functioning of ketamine in treating depression, a study mentioned that the drug acts differently by blocking N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain instead of affecting the signals by monoamine neurotransmitters such as serotonin, noradrenaline, or dopamine.

However, experts warn against the limited research and experiments conducted on ketamine that might have long-term effects and side effects on the patient. Until now, headache, dizziness, dissociation, elevated blood pressure and blurred vision have been recorded as the common side effects. Additionally, a few earlier studies have also linked longer-term ketamine use to bladder inflammation, liver damage, cognitive changes like memory loss, and craving or addiction.

Therefore, raising a question on the labeled use of the drug, another study cautioned against its multiple and repeated doses over a protracted period. “Despite low ketamine doses currently being used in depression studies, urological toxicity, liver function abnormalities, negative cognitive effects and risk of dependency may limit the safe use of ketamine as a long-term antidepressant treatment,” the study noted.

How to deal with depression

Mental health conditions are debilitating in nature and have the potential to deteriorate the quality of life. The presence of a mental health condition can be recognized with exhibited symptoms. However, accurate diagnosis of the illness is only possible after a thorough evaluation. Therefore, one should seek immediate intervention at the onset of any symptoms and undergo a clinical assessment at a credible rehab to determine the type, severity, and duration of the condition. Fortunately, most of the mental disorders can be treated with medication and therapies or a combination of both.

If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, bipolar or any other mental health condition, do not attempt to self-medicate with alcohol or other illicit substances as they can aggravate the underlying disorder, apart from leading to an addiction. Seek help from Depression Treatment Helpline to know about the depression rehab centers near you. You can call our 24/7 helpline number (866) 619-7729 or chat online with our experts to know more about the treatment centers for depression in your vicinity.