One of the biggest surprises to me when I began working as a nurse practitioner in the emergency department was the number of psychiatric patients that make their way through the doors of the ED. For many of these patients, effective care is difficult to come by. Overcrowded facilities and financial hurdles prevent them from receiving appropriate treatment. Research shows that this scenario is all too common.
Aside from a shortage of care, psychiatric diagnoses can be very difficult to treat. Major depressive disorder, for example, is the leading cause of disability in the U.S. among adults ages 15 to 44. The disease affects approximately 14.8 million American adults, about 6.7 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older. As a result, antidepressant use among Americans is skyrocketing. In the late 2000’s, adults in the U.S. consumed four times more antidepressants than in the early 1990’s. An estimated 8 to 10 percent of the U.S. population is currently taking an antidepressant. As many as one-third of these individuals do not respond to available antidepressant medications.
The prevalence of depression and the subsequent need for medications to treat the problem has led to new research into effective therapies. One such therapy is particularly interesting. As nurse practitioners, we’re familiar with ketamine used for purposes like sedation. A growing body of research suggests that this familiar drug is also effective for treatment of depression.
Unlike SSRIs that act on serotonin and norepinephrine receptors, ketamine primarily targets glutamate receptors in the brain. As a result, the effects of ketamine treatment for depression are rapid – often providing relief within hours. The rapid effects of treatment are particularly helpful in relieving depression in suicidal patients as the effects of SSRI’s take weeks to notice. Targeting glutamate receptors is a promising front in treatment of severe depression.
Ketamine is typically administered via IV infusion making the service logistically difficult to implement in most outpatient psychiatric and primary care clinics. One new company, Neuragain, offers a solution to the problem. Neuragain coordinates the logistics of implementing ketamine infusion services into the outpatient setting as well as organizes scheduling and patient education about the treatment. Neuragain gives nurse practitioners the resources they need to help psychiatric patients receive new ketamine therapies.
With the changing face of healthcare and an increasing shortage of medical providers, services like those offered by Neuragain help clinics maintain thriving practices while providing the most up to date, effective therapies to patients.
To learn more about how Neuragain can help your practice offer ketamine therapy, click here.