Ketamine Treatment for bipolar depression
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 4.4% of adults in the U.S. will experience bipolar depression at some point in their lives. Similar to depression, bipolar depression is characterized by depressive episodes resulting in a low mood, but it is different in that these episodes alternate with manic episodes, resulting in excess energy and heightened irritability. This disorder is disabling not only for the struggles the individual highs and lows may cause but also for the heightened unpredictability and severity of mood swings. Fortunately, ketamine therapy has proven effective in combating this mental illness.
If you or someone you know is suffering from bipolar depression and you think ketamine treatment sounds like a viable option, don’t hesitate to contact us for an evaluation and get started on your journey to better mental health today.
There are a few different classifications of bipolar depression, but they are all categorized by the frequency and severity of depressive episodes and manic episodes. Symptoms of depressive episodes are identical to depression, including feeling sad or empty, lack of motivation and energy, feelings of low self-worth or guilt, change in appetite, and suicidal thoughts. Manic episodes consist of an emotional high, which can cause excited, euphoric, and impulsive behavior. Impulsivity causes risk-taking behavior without a sense of consequence, leading to actions that can harm oneself or others. Some people may even experience hallucinations or symptoms similar to psychosis in severe cases.
As of now, it is unknown exactly what causes bipolar depression. Observations have shown that individuals with the disorder have physical changes in their brains. Still, it is unclear exactly what causes specific changes that cause bipolar depression rather than just depression. However, those who have a first-generation relative with the disorder are at a higher risk of being diagnosed themselves, which suggests there may be a genetic factor at play as well.
Because of the nature of bipolar depression, it can be very difficult to treat. A typical treatment for manic episodes is a mood stabilizer, or in severe or persistent cases, antipsychotics. Antipsychotics aim to regulate the mania in the patient and calm down the activity in the brain that leads to hyperactivity and reckless behavior. However, to treat the depressive episodes, standard treatments include antidepressants, such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These increase the serotonin in the brain to increase the mood in the patient.
The problem with treating bipolar depression is that the two episodes are opposites – you must be careful not to push too far and trigger the opposite episode when treating one. It is easy to accidentally trigger a depressive episode with mood regulators or a manic episode with antidepressants. Because of this, balance in medications must be carefully regulated and constantly monitored, and psychotherapy is also often recommended. Side effects that are similar to treatment for depression may occur, as well as withdrawal symptoms when ceasing to take medication.
However, in addition to traditional medication, ketamine therapy offers another option. Ketamine doesn’t affect the mood chemicals like serotonin, so there isn’t any risk of overcorrecting the mania or depression and thus triggering the other one. Instead, it aims to help rewire the brain and promote neural connections more suited towards a healthy thought process and regular moods. Most people feel some relief of symptoms almost immediately from ketamine treatment. While there are side effects to this method, they typically disappear entirely once the ketamine has passed through the body (in roughly a day).