By: Jadon Webb, M.D., Ph.D.
Major depressive disorder can sometimes be difficult to treat with regular medications. if someone has tried several medications without success, they are generally thought to have treatment-resistant depression. Unfortunately, treatment-resistant depression often does not respond to the typical treatments of depression and more creative approaches are often needed.
It goes without saying that anyone with severe depression that is treatment-resistant should be in therapy, should have a complete medical workup, and should have their sleep, diet, exercise, and socialization assessed. If no obvious correctable cause for the depression is found, it is sometimes necessary to consider stronger treatments to help with depression, especially if there are any signs of hopelessness for suicidal thinking.
Ketamine Is a well-researched treatment for treatment-resistant depression and complex PTSD in adults. But can it help with depression in adolescents? And is it ever an appropriate treatment to consider in this age group?
A randomized study out of Yale gave a single dose of ketamine to adolescents age 13-17 who had major depression and had failed other treatments for depression (oral medications). The results are quite impressive.
A single infusion of ketamine helped 76% of the patients, compared to only 35% that received an active placebo. Even more interesting is that the effects seemed to last for weeks just from this one infusion (it is common to do 6-8 infusions to produce a more sustained effect). The treatment was also noted to be safe with no serious adverse effects in a recent scientific review.
The data on ketamine as one of the treatments of depression is still relatively new, but so far it appears that ketamine is every bit as effective (perhaps even more effective) in treating adolescent major depressive disorder compared to in adults. And again, it appears to be relatively safe, especially when considering the alternative (a patient with severe depression that cannot get relief).
If you are wondering how to fight depression, and conventional medications, therapy, and lifestyle interventions have not been sufficient, ketamine may be worth considering.
about the authorS
Jadon Webb, M.D., Ph.D.
Bloom Mental Health
Disclaimer: this blog is NOT intended as medical advice and does not imply any kind of specific guidance or treatment recommendations, and should NOT be used to guide a treatment protocol. (read full disclaimer)
DNP, MSN, FNP-BC
Family Nurse Practitioner