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November Newsletter

As the change of season settles upon us and temperatures begin to drop in Lancaster County, we know winter is quickly approaching. Many people have looked forward to cozy fireplaces, quickening sunsets, and the rapid decline of temps for months, but for some, the cold weather and changing seasons can trigger depression and anxiety, or worsen symptoms of an existing mental health condition. Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) or winter depression is a condition that affects a person’s mood and overall well-being. The winter months can be more challenging for individuals struggling with SAD, but with the proper treatment, you can find relief. If you struggle with winter depression and haven’t found relief from traditional treatment methods, ketamine therapy could work for you. Below, you’ll learn more about SAD and how to beat seasonal depression through ketamine therapy.

What Is Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Seasonal affective disorder, also known as seasonal depression, is a type of depressive disorder that occurs during specific times of the year, typically in fall or winter. People struggling with SAD usually have their symptoms start and end around the same time. For example, a person with SAD may experience symptoms beginning in the fall and get more intense as winter comes around. As spring begins, their symptoms lessen or go away.

SAD has many similar symptoms to typical depression, with the main difference being that the symptoms don’t last all year. As winter rolls around, a person with SAD will feel less energetic and moody. Some seasonal affective disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling sad or down for most of the day, almost every day.

  • Sleeping more than normal.

  • Overeating or experiencing weight gain.

  • Losing interest in activities that once brought you joy.

  • Feelings of hopelessness, guilt or worthlessness.

  • Suicidal ideation.

While there’s no known exact cause of SAD, it’s linked to less sunlight and shorter days. SAD is also linked to increased melatonin production since the body naturally produces more melatonin when it gets dark outside. A medical professional can diagnose SAD after a mental health evaluation and after looking at a patient’s medical history.

How Does Ketamine Therapy Help Seasonal Affective Disorder?

Cognitive-behavioral therapy and antidepressants are standard treatments for all types of depression, but still do not relieve symptoms in some patients. Ketamine is a treatment that is being discussed and utilized more often for treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD) and may be helpful for those experiencing seasonal affective disorder. Some research indicates that depression could be linked to a loss of synaptic connectivity, controlled by glutamate in the brain. Ketamine may enhance synaptic connectivity in these circuits, resulting in symptom relief.

Glutamate regulates large regions of the nervous systems and is the most prominent neurotransmitter in the brain. When glutamate receptors are over-activated, as in cases of major depressive disorder (MDD), a person may experience depression and anxiety. Ketamine works by blocking glutamine receptors in the brain. Some studies suggest depression may stem from a lack of synaptic connectivity. Ketamine infusion therapy works by enhancing synaptic connectivity in brain circuitry, which may provide relief from depression symptoms.

Ketamine may be able to reverse the effects of stress and depression. Because glutamate synapses play a critical role in the brain, ketamine may enhance synaptic connectivity in brain circuits, ultimately relieving, and even reversing, the effects of stress.

Ketamine is an effective depression treatment because it works quickly and may work when other treatments have failed. Ketamine treatment may work especially well among patients who are resistant to other forms of treatment like anti-depressants and cognitive therapy. According to the National Center of Biotechnical Information, ketamine is gaining popularity in treating major depressive disorder (MDD) that has previously been treatment-resistant. Although not approved by the FDA, ketamine is gaining popularity for treatment-resistant MDD, because of the rapid onset of efficacy.

What Does The Treatment Process Look Like?

  1. Pre-treatment: Before you receive a ketamine infusion, you will be placed on monitors that will stay connected throughout your infusion.

  2. Infusion: Your provider will start the infusion once you’ve gone through the pre-treatment process. We will ensure you experience pleasant feelings. The dose is carefully monitored because too high of a dose can induce negative feelings, which is counterproductive to treatment.

  3. Post-infusion: Once you finish the infusion, the feelings from ketamine should fade in 20 minutes or so. Some people feel tired after their treatment. A trusted friend or family member should drive you home.

  4. Additional infusions: Depending on the extent of your symptoms, you may go back for additional infusions. Infusion experiences can vary from each session, but the process typically remains the same.

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