Depression is a serious mental illness that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, depression is a major contributor to the overall global burden of disease and a leading cause of disability on a global scale.
But despite the prevalence of depression, treatment options have been limited and often ineffective. That’s why researchers at Janssen Pharmaceuticals recently developed a new medication called Spravato, which can be used together with an antidepressant to provide relief from refractory depression.
What is Spravato?
Spravato is the brand name for esketamine, a derivative of ketamine. Ketamine is an anesthetic medication that has been used for decades in the medical scene for sedation and pain management.
Surprisingly, recent research has shown that ketamine has a rapid-acting antidepressant effect that is currently being leveraged to manage treatment-resistant depression and other mental health disorders.
Ketamine is largely used off-label in the form of intravenous infusions, but thanks to its high rate of efficacy, the FDA recently approved a nasal spray derivative of ketamine to be used as an adjunct treatment for adults with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
How Does Spravato Work?
Like ketamine infusions, Spravato or esketamine works by binding to glutamate receptors in the brain, which helps modulate the activity of glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter that is primarily responsible for regulating mood and emotional states.
The medication is also thought to promote neuroplasticity (the brain’s ability to adapt and change) which helps promote the formation of new and healthy neuronal connections in the brain. This process is thought to further support the development of more positive thinking patterns and contribute to improved mood.
When used in combination with an oral antidepressant, Spravato has been shown to be effective in helping reduce symptoms of depression more rapidly and for longer periods of time.
Who Can Benefit from Spravato?
Spravato is specifically indicated for adults who have tried at least two or more antidepressant treatments without success. It is considered a treatment-resistant depression (TRD) therapy and can prove to be an invaluable tool for those who are struggling with depression and have been unable to find relief from other treatments.
However, it is important to note that Spravato is not a stand-alone treatment and should be used alongside an oral antidepressant and other interventions like therapy for the best results.
Does Spravato Have Any Side Effects?
Like ketamine infusion therapy, Spravato is highly safe and well tolerated by most patients. Still, some people may experience some mild side effects which tend to wear off after a few hours following treatment. These may include:
- Mild dissociation or hallucinations
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increased blood pressure
Spravato is a promising new treatment option for people with treatment-resistant depression or those who have not responded well to traditional antidepressants. When used correctly, it can help provide rapid and sustained relief from depression symptoms and improve overall quality of life.
If you believe that you may benefit from Spravato, speak to your doctor or a certified ketamine provider to determine if this cutting-edge depression treatment is right for you.