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Spravato: A Breakthrough Treatment for Depression – What You Need to Know

May 1, 2023

Depression is a complex and debilitating mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. Traditional treatments like antidepressant medications and therapy can be effective for some, but not everyone finds relief from these methods. However, new and innovative treatments are emerging, offering hope to those who have struggled to find relief from depression. One such breakthrough treatment is Spravato (esketamine).

What is Spravato?

Spravato is the brand name for esketamine, a medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in March 2019 for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) with acute suicidal ideation or behavior. It is derived from ketamine, a drug traditionally used as an anesthetic in medical and veterinary settings. Spravato is a nasal spray, providing an alternative route of administration for those who may have difficulty swallowing pills or receiving intravenous treatments.

How does Spravato work?

Spravato works by targeting the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, a type of glutamate receptor found in nerve cells. Glutamate is a major neurotransmitter in the brain that plays a crucial role in learning, memory, and mood regulation. Researchers believe that by blocking the NMDA receptor, esketamine can help reset the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain, alleviating depressive symptoms. Additionally, Spravato has been shown to have rapid-acting effects, with some patients reporting significant improvements in their mood within hours of their first treatment.

What to expect during treatment

Spravato treatment is administered in a certified healthcare provider’s office or clinic. The healthcare professional will monitor the patient during the treatment and for at least two hours after administration. This is because Spravato can cause temporary side effects like dizziness, disorientation, and increased blood pressure. Patients should not drive, operate heavy machinery, or engage in any activities requiring full alertness for the rest of the day after their treatment.

The initial treatment phase usually involves two sessions per week for four weeks. After that, the maintenance phase typically involves one treatment every one to two weeks, depending on the patient’s response and needs.

Benefits and risks

Spravato has shown promise for many individuals who have not found relief through other treatments for depression. Its rapid onset of action can be particularly beneficial for those experiencing severe depressive episodes or suicidal thoughts.

However, Spravato is not without risks. Some of the side effects can include nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and dissociation (a temporary feeling of being detached from reality). It is essential to discuss these potential side effects with your healthcare provider before starting treatment. Additionally, Spravato can be expensive, and insurance coverage may vary, so it’s crucial to explore your financial options before committing to treatment.

Conclusion

Spravato represents a significant breakthrough in the treatment of depression, offering hope to those who have struggled to find relief through traditional methods. It is an important option for those with treatment-resistant depression or major depressive disorder with acute suicidal ideation or behavior. If you think Spravato may be right for you, consult with your healthcare provider to determine the best course of action for your individual needs.

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