5.7 million adult Americans are estimated to suffer from bipolar disorder each year and that almost 10 million people will develop it sometime during their lifetime. Bipolar disorder tends to present on a spectrum with varying experiences of mania and depression from patient to patient. While manic and hypo-manic episodes can produce elevated mood, high levels of energy and a reduced need for sleep, they also produce irritability, emotional outbursts, and uncontrollable thought patterns.
While manic episodes can be dangerous, depressive episodes for Bipolar patients tend to be much longer lasting and more debilitating with loss of motivation, energy, and profound sadness. While Ketamine cannot cure bipolar disorder or prevent manic episodes, it can provide incomparable relief from depressive and impulsive symptoms.
Ketamine for bipolar depression can provide significant relief for a for 70% of patients within 1 week of starting treatments. “Ketamine’s remarkable rapid, robust, and sustained antidepressant effects are considered to be “arguably the most important discovery in half a century” for depression research” (Harvard Medical School) (Yale School of Medicine) Ketamine has shown no difference in its potency of relief for bipolar depression versus unipolar depression.
Interestingly, Ketamine is also effective at treating other symptoms of bipolar disorder. “Our preliminary results suggest that IV ketamine is effective in rapidly treating anxiety irritability and suicidal ideation in adults with treatment-resistant mood disorders.” (Mood Disorders Psychopharmacology Unit) It also shows promise in helping Bipolar patients with anxiety issues. “A study of patients with anxious and non-anxious bipolar depression found that both anxious and non-anxious patients with bipolar depression had significant antidepressant responses to ketamine” (National Institute of Mental Health)
Ketamine produces different effects in the brain for anti-depressants commonly prescribed for bipolar disorder, by increasing transmission of glutamate through its interaction with the NMDA receptor. “A single subanesthetic dose infusion of the noncompetitive NMDA receptor antagonist ketamine has been shown to have rapid and potent antidepressant effects in treatment-resistant Bipolar Depression” (National Institute of Mental Health).
Just as importantly, Ketamine is a proven agent of neuroplasticity and shows promise as a mood regulator by increasing levels of BDNF in the brain.
This suggests the use of ketamine as a viable treatment option for bipolar patients, given that ketamine increases BDNF expression.
“Several clinical studies have demonstrated decreased levels of BDNF in bipolar patients during depressive and manic episodes. Other studies have shown that low levels of BDNF are associated with an increased severity of bipolar episodes This suggests the use of ketamine as a viable treatment option for bipolar patients, given that ketamine increases BDNF expression” (Bipolar Disorder Research Program).
Ketamine often eliminates depression, ruminations, anxiety and patterns of behavior that have long been resistant to bipolar patients in their treatment. While it is not a comprehensive treatment for bipolar disorder, Ketamine shows great promise as new tool to improve patients’ lives.
New Pathways Clinic and Nora Finnegan our Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner believe in personalized treatment for each patient with bipolar disorder. We understand its complexity and nuances and want to safely guide you through this promising new treatment option. We will not treat patients whilst they are in the midst of a manic or hypo-manic episode and act in your best interest.
Additionally, we will always collaborate with your primary providers and provide holistic care. With 10 years of experience providing ketamine infusions for mental health, you can trust Nora to give you the best care possible.
Have the depressive episodes of bipolar disorder been unresponsive to medications? Have you struggled with reducing intrusive thoughts, irritability, and emotional swings?
Then reach out and schedule a free consultation with our experienced team today.