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Ketamine Therapy for Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal ideation refers to thoughts or contemplation about ending one's own life. These thoughts can range from fleeting considerations about death or self-harm to more persistent and detailed plans about how to carry out suicide.

woman looking out pensively

Understanding Suicidal Ideation

Suicidal ideation can vary in intensity and duration. Some people might have passive thoughts like "I wish I wasn't here" or "Life isn't worth living," while others might have active thoughts and specific plans about ending their life.

It's essential to take any form of suicidal ideation seriously and seek help or support.

Treatment Approaches

There are different treatment approaches to suicidal ideation depending on the nature and severity of the thoughts and the underlying condition. Methods may include therapy/counseling, medications (such as antidepressants and mood stabilizers), safety planning, lifestyle changes, support networks, and hospitalization and treatment centers. 

How Ketamine Therapy Treats Suicidal Ideation

  • Ketamine therapy has shown potential is rapidly reducing suicidal ideation in some individuals.

  • Ketamine's effects often occur much faster than traditional antidepressants, with some individuals experiencing a receding in suicidl thought within hours or days. 

  • Ketamine treatment for suicidal thoughts associated with mood disorders 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 mood disorders 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. 

  • While targeting suicidal thoughts, ketamine can also alleviate other depressive symptoms, contributing to an overall improvement in mood.

Why Consider Ketamine Therapy for Suicidal Ideation?

  • Ketamine therapy may be a treatment option for individuals with thoughts about suicide.

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

  • Ketamine treatments work more rapidly on depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation, than traditional oral antidepressant medications.

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