Esketamine is used on top of antidepressants to treat treatment-resistant depression. The reason the esketamine works when antidepressants alone do not is because it does not work like an antidepressant.
Typical antidepressants raise the levels of certain chemicals like dopamine, norepinephrine,and serotonin that naturally occur in the brain as neurotransmitters. Many experts believe that depression and other mental health conditions are linked to an imbalance of these neurotransmitters. Ideally, antidepressants work to restore the balance of these neurotransmitters, resulting in fewer depression symptoms and improved mental health.
Esketamine works similarly to antidepressants, but it increases the brain’s most prevalent chemical messenger: glutamate levels. Increased glutamate levels result in a greater reach and more substantial impact on brain cells with a single dose compared to antidepressants alone.
This is not to say that antidepressants don’t have a viable place in the treatment of depression. Millions of people each year do get relief from symptoms of depression thanks to these medications. However, they don’t work for everyone. Esketamine can be an additional treatment that helps people suffering from TRD find relief.
Esketamine treatments are an office-based, outpatient procedure. Patients will self-administer the nasal spray under the supervision of a healthcare provider and in a comfortable, safe setting. The patient will be monitored during and after the treatment for two hours.
A typical course of esketamine treatment consists of twelve sessions over two months. Your physician will also help you to determine maintenance treatments based on your unique needs.