To say this past year has been challenging is a gross understatement. The pandemic, along with the ensuing shutdowns, shelter at home policies, and quarantines, have taken a toll on our mental health both locally here in the United States as well as globally. The good news is, as vaccinations become more accessible and more people are taking advantage of being vaccinated, the world has begun to open up a bit. Many yearn for things to “get back to normal.” What does that mean, exactly? Unfortunately, it is more complicated for some with mental health disorders than simply getting vaccinated and getting back out in the world.
Let’s Look at Statistics on Depressive Disorders Before and During Covid
In 2017, the National Institute of Mental Health estimated 17.3 million adults, or 7.1% of the U.S. population, suffered at least one episode of major depression. Approximately 64% of those U.S. adults with significant depression suffer severe impairment in their ability to function yearly. Note, these numbers are pre-COVID. While we don’t have all the data yet, according to recent studies, COVID has likely tripled the depression rate in the United States.
Unemployment, isolation, and general fear over the virus itself have all contributed to the problem. However, getting rid of these factors doesn’t automatically mean the depressive disorder disappears as well. According to Itai Danovitch, MD, chair of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences, historically, pandemics and other public health crises have a lasting impact.
This suggests today’s elevated mental health need will continue well beyond the coronavirus outbreak itself. In an analysis of the psychological toll on health care workers during outbreaks, one example concluded that psychological distress could last as many as three years afterward. In addition, due to the financial crisis accompanying the pandemic, there are also significant implications for mortality due to “deaths of despair.” A May 2020 analysis projects that, based on the economic downturn and social isolation, additional deaths due to suicide and alcohol or drug misuse may continue to occur through 2029.
How Can We Adjust as The World Opens Up?
Our lives have been shaped over the last year in a way we could have never anticipated. As we attempt to adapt to the new post-Covid world, how can we manage? Starting with the basics like regular exercise, healthy nutrition, and proper amounts of sleep are often overlooked but are potent factors when it comes to mental health. In addition, creating and sticking to routines for you and your family members can provide a sense of stability and security. Simple things like a set time for meals, bedtime, and even playtime can ease feelings of anxiety.
While implementing self-care activities like routine and exercise are effective, they can seem like an unfeasible task for many. Depressive disorders can debilitate some, making it impossible for them to function. In these cases, seeking out professional help may be necessary.
Enlisting the help of a licensed psychologist or psychiatrist can significantly improve people’s lives. These trained professionals can provide the tools needed to manage anxiety, depression, and other depressive disorders. In some cases, a psychiatrist can also prescribe medication to help mitigate symptoms.
For some, traditional therapies and medications aren’t effective. Years have been spent trying to manage the symptoms that accompany conditions such as Major Depressive Disorder, Anxiety, and Bipolar Disorder. While waiting to find relief, the symptoms can worsen, causing deep depression, hopelessness, and despair. Finding alternative treatment becomes necessary.
One alternative treatment is Ketamine Infusion Therapy. Ketamine is used extensively in emergency departments for analgesia and sedation in children and adults who are about to undergo painful or delicate procedures, in which creating a dissociative, amnestic state is favorable. It has proven to be excellent in surgeries involving frightened children. As a result, ketamine is the preferred analgesia and sedation in the ED for pediatric procedures.
The administration of intravenous low-dose ketamine is also surprisingly effective in rapidly improving the symptoms of depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other mental health conditions well as chronic pain syndromes. In 2014, Thomas Insel, former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, stated that “Recent data suggest that ketamine, given intravenously, might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.”
Ketamine can improve symptoms of depression in as little as several hours after the first treatment and seems to last anywhere from several days to weeks or even months. We see the improvements lasting the longest after a series of six infusions over two weeks. Single-dose “booster” treatments at a period of two weeks to months after the initial infusion have prolonged the antidepressant effect of the medication even further in many patients.
Ketamine Infusions Available Right Here in Albuquerque
The use of ketamine continues to be studied and used as effective treatments for various mood disorders. As part of the medical and psychotherapy community, we are committed to developing ways to collaborate when offering patients faster, safer, and more effective solutions to improve their quality of life.
To learn more about Ketamine Infusion Therapy, click here or call 505-639-4973 to schedule a private consultation.
Tranquility Ketamine Clinic is a leading provider of ketamine infusion therapy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Founded by two experienced emergency room physicians with over 50 years combined practice administering ketamine in the emergency department, the clinic provides effective treatments for depression, PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), chronic pain, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), anxiety, stress, and burnout in comfortable private rooms at its Northeast Albuquerque location.