Esketamine nasal spray is a relatively new treatment in the world of psychiatry, and we are very excited about it. However, we totally understand why people may be skeptical about it. Esketamine is derived from ketamine, which is known as a party drug and has negative associations within our society. Over the years, there have been plenty of scientific studies that show the amazing benefits of esketamine nasal spray. Let’s go over these benefits, starting with the fact that it has FDA approval!
1. Esketamine treats depression
In 2019, esketamine nasal spray (with the brand name “Spravato”) became FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression in adults. It was also the only FDA-approved psychiatric drug for major depressive disorder (MDD) with acute suicidal ideation in adults.
Esketamine works at treating depression differently than antidepressants. Antidepressants traditionally target certain neurotransmitters in the brain, such as dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine. However, esketamine uniquely targets the glutamate system. Glutamate is the major excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain. With the dosage used to treat depression, esketamine binds to the inhibitory neurons in your brain. The result causes net excitation in the areas of the brain that are part of the depression circuit. (Very scientific stuff, yes.)
Ultimately, esketamine functions differently in the brain compared to medications and antidepressants. If you’ve been trying antidepressants with no relief of your symptoms or have experienced bad side effects, then maybe esketamine could work better for your brain or body. We’ve found that 69% of patients show improvement in their depression symptoms with esketamine after just eight treatments.
2. It can help with other mental health disorders, too
While esketamine is only FDA-approved for adult treatment-resistant depression and MDD with acute suicidal ideation, it can also help with other mental health conditions. Many people who get esketamine for their depression also experience other conditions like OCD, anxiety, or an eating disorder. Our Director of Psychedelic Medicine, Dr. Jennifer Guo, explains, “In my experience, it is sort of a ‘rising tide lifts all boats’ kind of thing. As your depression gets better, other aspects of your mental health get a little bit better as well.” Again, esketamine is only approved for depression, but it is possible that you may experience relief in other areas of your mental health when going through esketamine treatments.
3. Esketamine helps your brain to grow and change
When it comes to depression and other mental health conditions, people tend to develop a habit or pattern of negative thinking that gets ingrained over time. Esketamine activates neuroplasticity, which is the ability of your brain to grow and change. Because of this benefit of activating your brain’s neuroplasticity, you are better able to become “unstuck” from those negative thought patterns. Becoming unstuck helps people overcome their depression and can be another reason why people find that esketamine can also help with other mental health conditions.
4. Enter an expanded state of consciousness
While this can sound quite woo-woo, esketamine allows people to enter an expanded state of consciousness. It does this by creating a dissociative effect in the user, which is a natural effect of the medication. The word “dissociation” can have a negative meaning as many people think of it as a trauma response. However, when talking about esketamine, the word takes on a different meaning.
During treatment, you may feel removed from yourself and experience a distortion in your senses. For example, some people say they feel like they’re watching themself in a video game or they see themself in a field. Or it looks like one hand is larger than the other or that it feels like two hours went by in 15 minutes. Everyone’s experiences can be unique. This effect doesn’t cause delusions or hallucinations but an expanded state of consciousness, as most people still feel very grounded in where they actually are. Dr. Guo often tells patients to not be afraid but curious about it.
5. Esketamine can help with processing past events
When tapping into this expanded state of consciousness through dissociation, it’s quite common for people to access and experience prior memories. These memories can be good ones, but they can also be bad memories that might have been walled off in some way as a type of defense mechanism. When this happens, people can work through those memories and process those events in a way they haven’t been able to before.
Dr. Guo shares, “I think dissociation is not really a side effect but a desired effect to truly heal from earlier traumas and move through things that people were afraid to or didn’t want to before.” Dr. Guo has witnessed patients work through very painful memories during their sessions and experience immense relief afterward. She believes this factor is one of the bigger esketamine benefits.
Experience the benefits of esketamine nasal spray
When it comes to mental health treatment, it is worth it to explore your options. If you feel like esketamine could be right for you, call our intake line or connect with us online. We will set you up with an initial screening with a doctor trained in esketamine. If they believe esketamine is appropriate for you, we’ll contact and get approval from your insurance before starting treatment. Experience the eye-opening benefits of esketamine nasal spray for yourself.
Please note that for insurance to cover esketamine treatments, you usually have to prove that you’ve tried two or more medication trials with no relief of symptoms. However, our providers can help you figure that out during your initial screening.