After all these days in quarantine and through unprecedented and challenging times, many of us are feeling stressed, anxious or burned out. All of us are bombarded each day with continued uncertainty and conflicting information about this virus and it is taking a toll on everyone.
Wouldn’t it be great if there was a way to reverse the negative effects of all this stress in in just a few hours and feel better again?
We have all seen mental health experts in the news giving us advice. They suggest that we make time for dedicated exercise, avoid checking the news every hour, and engage in socializing. All reasonable and logical recommendations but for many it’s just not enough to really overcome the feelings of anxiety, uncertainty and isolation that occur.
Others have advised seeking professional help – trying tele-therapy or to consider taking prescription medications like antidepressants or tranquilizers. The problem is, prescription medications may take weeks or months before they start to work and even then, only about 1/3 of people see any improvement. That’s not to mention the unpleasant side effects that can occur — feeling “flat” all the time, diminishing sexual desires or experiencing increased negative thoughts.
Is it possible to find something more effective that would avoid some of these issues and give us a “jump start” on feeling better? New insights from brain science can help you not just survive — but thrive in these challenging times by increasing resiliency.
New research has suggested that the best way to overcome the negative effects of chronic stress – including anxiety depression and burnout – is by increasing our resiliency.
Resiliency – The Best Way to Defeat Chronic Stress, Anxiety and Depression
Resilience is the capacity to recover, respond and bounce back from challenging times such as we are all experiencing now. More than that, it can improve our mood and immune functions, as well as our energy level and ability to respond to difficult situations.
“Medical research has found a way to “flip the switch” on chronic stress, anxiety and depression to build up our resiliency in a matter of hours.”
While some antidepressants and other similar medication have been shown to slowly increase resiliency in some over time, new research focusing on a “molecular switch” known as the NMDA receptor has shown the remarkable ability to rapidly accelerate the process in a matter of hours.
A Remarkable Breakthrough in Neuroscience
To find something more effective than conventional antidepressants, a group of researchers at Yale University in the late 1990s zeroed in on another neurotransmitter that they belied could boost mood and increase resiliency – glutamate. Glutamate is the main excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain, it “flips the switch” and pushes neurons to fire electrically. Research at the time also indicated that glutamate regulates brain circuits that are responsible for feelings of depression and anxiety.
The Yale group decided to test the well-known anesthetic agent – ketamine – in part because its blocks a glutamate receptor in the brain called the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor that when turned off, can activate the brain pathways associated with improved mood and function, but also because it had a long track record of safety. In the study, they administered a very low dose of the medication by IV infusion to a group of severely depressed patients who had not responded to any prescription antidepressants and were stunned by the results.
“Not only did it work within a matter of minutes to hours improving mood and outlook, amazingly over 75% of those who received the infusion saw improvement.”
One of the researchers compared the experience of watching patients suddenly feel better and become energized to the movie Awakenings. In that film, a patient stuck in a catatonic state for decades suddenly wakes up and becomes alive again when treated with the drug L-dopa. Since that time, many others have confirmed ketamine’s ability to rapidly improve mood, energy levels and resilience.
The excitement over ketamine therapy among researchers and physicians is clear. They point out that ketamine is the first drug, working in an entirely new way, that can effectively build resiliency and reverse the symptoms of anxiety, depression and PTSD in more than half a century.
Can You Really Feel Better in Just Minutes? – How Does it Work so fast?
Scientists aren’t sure exactly how ketamine produces such a rapid improvement in these symptoms. One theory is that by blocking the NMDA receptor, ketamine “reboots” the nervous system and rapidly enhances the regrowth and expansion of connections between brain cells that are involved in mood and behavior.
“Finding a drug that can reverse depression or anxiety in minutes or hours, instead of weeks or months, has sent scientists chasing its mechanism of action”
Research has found that synapses (important connections) in specific brain regions—those areas that regulate mood and vitality become weaker and may actually “disconnect” during prolonged periods of chronic stress, leading to anxiety and depression-like symptoms.
Remarkably, they discovered that following a ketamine infusion there is a remarkable increase in the number and strength of these synapses, often within minutes. They found that ketamine’s ability to “flip the glutamate switch” is key to rapidly reversing the effects of stress and re-establishing healthy and active new connections. And they think that ketamine acts so much faster than antidepressants because it acts directly on synapses, whereas the older, medication only act on synapses indirectly.
Today, many world-renown medical centers such as Yale, Harvard, Columbia and the Mayo Clinic are now offering ketamine-based infusions as an effective way to boost resiliency and rapidly reverse symptoms of burnout, depression and anxiety. What’s more – they are even considering it as a possible preventative from developing these conditions.
How Long Do the Improvements Last?
Obviously, each person is different and can respond differently to any medication, but research has shown that six out of eight people will experience a dramatic improvement in their mood following ketamine infusion therapy that will last for about 4 weeks before needing another infusion.
The improvement may be a little longer in some and shorter in others. Those who benefit from ketamine therapy generally fall into what is known as a “normal distribution curve”. The majority of people (70%) will need repeat infusions every 4 weeks, while 15% of responders experience improvement lasting longer than 4 weeks and the remaining 15%, may need them even more frequently.
” Ketamine can offer very dramatic and rapid relief — but the improvement only lasts about 4 weeks”
Even though the benefits of ketamine-based therapy far exceed those of conventional antidepressants, some have compared ketamine to a “band-aid” type of approach to treatment in which you may see improvement for a little while, but never quite obtain long term benefit. Substituting taking antidepressants every day in exchange for ketamine infusions every month.
Many also find that the need to have 6 ketamine infusions over a 2-week period difficult to fit into their schedule and are disappointed that they need infusions every 4 weeks to continue feeling better. Even so, the rapid effectiveness of ketamine is far better than any conventional antidepressant therapy.
Could ketamine be made to work faster and longer?
Improving Ketamine – The Key to Faster and Longer lasting Relief
Although we were initially impressed with the research results too; it was also clear to us that there were many other factors that could influence how well the infusion worked. The first question that came to mind was the dose of ketamine used – was it the optimal choice?
After all, almost every medication available comes in various strengths for treating different conditions doesn’t it? Prozac, for example, which is an older and very commonly prescribed antidepressant is available in 10mg, 20mg, 40mg, 90mg strengths. The reason why it comes in so many different strengths is because each person will metabolize the drug differently, some more slowly and others very rapidly, leading to very different amounts of the medication in their system. Also, we known that some conditions may be more difficult to treat, requiring more of the medication to be effective.
Another factor we considered was various other medication a person may be taking may affect one another. Often when anyone starts a new medication, their practitioner or pharmacist will warn them about taking other medications at the same time because they might negatively interact with each other — the same is also true for ketamine.
Common sense and logic suggested there was room to improve ketamine infusions utilizing the same approach.
The first step was to determine the most effective dose or blood concentration of ketamine that would be the most effective or last longer. Once that was determined, the next step was to understand the length of time necessary to maintain that concentration to have maximal effect. Finally, we sought to understand how each person’s metabolism, genetics and current medications could change how well our patients responded.
The RESTORE Infusion – A Better Version of Ketamine
Over a 7-year period we were able to identify all of those factors and determine the ideal infusion for each person. That endeavor led to the development of what is considered many the “Gold-Standard” of ketamine-based therapy — the RESTORE infusion.
Before we recommend a RESTORE infusion to any of our patients, we spend a great deal of time determining if that person is in the optimal state to obtain the best result possible. When we talk to our patients and review some of their medical records, it is not uncommon to find that important lab tests were overlooked or never evaluated. We have also found that some patients have unrecognized metabolic deficiencies and may need specific supplementation prior to beginning infusion therapy to have best results.
“RESTORE is considered by many as the “Gold-Standard” in ketamine-based therapy — Faster and Longer-Lasting Relief”
In addition to metabolic optimization prior to therapy, the RESTORE infusion process itself is unique in important ways. First it utilizes a specific combination of ketamine together with magnesium to make it more effective than ketamine alone. Magnesium acts as a synergistic agent, or cofactor, which also works at the same NMDA receptor site as ketamine does and is necessary for an optimal response. One of the critical factors we found is that magnesium must be given at the correct time and in the correct ratio to have maximal effect. When provided in this manner, it has been found to increase the responsiveness of NMDA receptor to ketamine by 2-3 times.
Secondly, and most importantly, we improved upon the older, simple infusion protocol that is currently used; updating it to a more effective and sophisticated 3-stage variable rate infusion. The 3-stage infusion protocol achieves optimal ketamine-magnesium levels much faster and maintains those levels for a longer period of time than the older approach. By optimizing the infusion process in this way, the RESTORE infusion program not only achieves more effective concentrations of ketamine, it also achieves significantly higher levels of the important metabolites of ketamine — HNK (Hydroxynorketamine) and DHNK (Dehydronorketamine). Research suggests that metabolites are responsible for extending the long-term benefits of ketamine by promoting ongoing neuroplasticity and synaptic connectively following a ketamine infusion.
Although the RESTORE infusion program is much more sophisticated than a conventional ketamine infusion, the results — at least in our opinion — are well worth it. It only requires 3 days to complete and the improvements last months longer than typical ketamine infusions.
Before Considering Ketamine Infusion Therapy
While the science is very exciting, ketamine-based infusion therapy is not to be considered lightly. If you are considering this remarkable new therapy, the first step on your journey should be to find a physician who is trained and qualified to administer ketamine infusions safely and effectively according to the American Psychiatric Association and the American Society of Anesthesiologists guidelines.
Ask a lot of questions and be satisfied with the answers. For help in learning what questions to ask, you can review the – “Frequently Asked Questions” – page at the Ketamine Research Institute to learn more about ketamine infusion therapy.
For Additional Information
Ketamine Research Institute – RESTORE Infusion Program
The RESTORE ketamine-based infusion program is comprehensive, highly individualized and strictly confidential. We don’t treat patients, we treat people… one person at a time.
If you would like to learn more about the RESTORE program, please feel free to visit our website at (restoreinfusion.com) or our clinical research center (ketamineinstitute.com). We are also available to assist you with a free private consultation. Please call us at 800-850-6979, we want to help.
In the meantime, remember that we are all experiencing the same hardship — which means we can understand what others are going through — and it is important that we all try to be there for each other, so we can all have a faster route to empathy and resilience.