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Ketamine Therapy for Bipolar Depression

Bipolar disorder (formerly termed manic depression) is a mental health condition that is associated with extreme mood swings of lows (bipolar depression). emotional highs (bipolar mania). An estimated 4.4% of adults in the United States meet criteria for bipolar disorder at some point in their lives. 

bipolar disorder

Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder

Symptoms of bipolar depression may include depressed mood, loss of interest in activities, disrupted sleep, restlessness, fatigue feelings of worthlessness, poor concentration, and thoughts about suicide.  Symptoms of bipolar mania may include feeling abnormally upbeat, increased activity or energy, decreased need for sleep, racing thoughts, distractability, and impulsivity.  

Traditional Treatments

Treatment of bipolar disorder typically involves a mood stabilizing agents and/or anti-psychotic medications to help prevent or reduce symptoms of mania.  Often antidepressants are added to help manage the symptoms of bipolar depression.  

How Ketamine Therapy Treats Bipolar Depression

  • Ketamine therapy is not a treatment option for bipolar mania as this typically requires treatment with a mood stabilizer or an antipsychotic medication.  

  • Individuals with bipolar disorder are advised to be on a mood stabilizer and/or an antipsychotic medication prior to considering ketamine therapy.  

  • Ketamine treatment for bipolar disorder is thought to work by facilitating the growth of new neural pathways, placing the brain in a state of neuroplasticity.  

  • Neuroplasticity allows for our minds to create thinking patterns and engage in new positive routines that alleviate symptoms of bipolar depression. 

  • Whereas traditional oral antidepressants typically work on bipolar depression through serotonin, norepinephrine neurotransmitters in the brain, ketamine treatment for bipolar disorder acts on an entirely different neurotransmitter called glutamate.  Glutamate regulates emotions, memory, neuroplasticity, and other cognitive processes.  Glutamate also stimulates the growth of new synapses (connections) between brain cells.  

  • Ketamine treatment for bipolar disorder is an innovative and newer treatment that works on bipolar depression even in individuals that have not benefited from multiple trials of different oral antidepressants.

Why Choose Ketamine Therapy for Bipolar Depression?

  • Ketamine therapy may be a treatment option for individuals with bipolar depression who have not benefitted from or not tolerated traditional oral antidepressant medications.  Ketamine is not a treatment option for bipolar mania. 

  • Ketamine is also an excellent treatment option for people who struggle with thoughts about suicide (a potential symptom of bipolar depression) as it is considered the fastest acting anti-suicidal treatment available. 

  • Ketamine can work on the core causes of the bipolar depression, not just the symptoms.

  • Ketamine does not have the same potential side effect profile as traditional oral antidepressant medications that often lead to patients discontinuing their medications. 

  • Ketamine treatment for bipolar disorder works more rapidly on bipolar depressive symptoms than traditional oral antidepressant medications.

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