What Did They Just Say!?
“I’m not so despondent about life anymore.”
“I ran this week.”
“I did Easter for the first time in years. I even cooked!”
“I don’t know what changed, but I smile now…and I laugh.”
“I haven’t heard him sing in years.”
“She asked me to make an appointment for her to get her hair dyed. She hasn’t dyed her hair since Christmas 2015.”
These statements have been made by patients and their family members in our ketamine infusion clinic over the past two months. Consistently, we are seeing significant changes in our patients – in their moods, their affects, their body language, and their HAM-D (Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression) scores. Their family members are reporting the changes they are seeing, and these changes are unbelievable, really.
How Are You Measuring These Changes?
In our work with TRD (treatment resistant depression) patients, we utilize the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAM-D), administering the survey prior to their initial infusion and as scheduled throughout the course of treatment. The purpose is to monitor patients’ depressive symptoms and levels of functioning in various aspects of their lives – mood, sleep, appetite, level of anxiety, somatic symptoms - to aggregate data, to determine the efficacy of ketamine infusion therapy, and ultimately to improve patient outcomes. The HAM-D is a 17-item survey, with each item valued at 3-5 points. The higher the total score, the more severe the depression:
A recent patient whose initial HAM-D score was a 26 revealed a score of 6 only 5 days later, after a series of three infusions. Another's initial HAM-D score of 28 dropped to a 13 after three infusions. A third patient's HAM-D score, following six infusions, was a 4. These are patients who have battled treatment resistant depression for most of their lives, with little to no relief.
So, Ketamine is the Cure-All for My Depression?
No, ketamine infusion therapy is NOT going to cure your depression. What it might do, however, is give you just enough relief that you actually are able to engage in and benefit from therapeutic activities, like counseling, meditation, exercise, and socializing with family and friends. Such activities not only decrease depressive symptoms but can perhaps increase your intrinsic value and provide you with the tools necessary to manage your depression next time it rears its ugly head.
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