Depression has been around for a really long time. However, despite its old age, the approach to treating this pernicious condition has only recently evolved into the form we are familiar with today. In the beginning, when depression was believed to be more of a spiritual condition, the methods for attempting to cure it were nothing short of barbaric. As medicine progressed, so too did depression treatments—but they were still terribly imprecise and even inhumane for many decades.
Webster’s Dictionary defines depression as “a mood disorder marked especially by sadness, inactivity, difficulty in thinking and concentration, a significant decrease in appetite and time spent sleeping, accompanied by feelings of dejection and hopelessness, and sometimes suicidal tendencies.” But what does that mean? According to this description, depression affects both the physical and emotional state, and leaves its victims incapable of improving their condition independently—at least at a significant level. Surely such a state would be reserved for only a select few, but sadly, this is not true—it affects millions of people. With such unavoidable and dramatic shifts of experience plaguing so many people, many equally dramatic interpretations and respective treatments have been established and developed throughout history.
Depression reaches as far back as the second millennium B.C to Mesopotamia. It was here that some of the first spiritual interpretations were first established. During this time, many Greek, Roman, Babylonian, Chinese, and Egyptians doctors believed it was caused by demonic possession. As a result, these unfortunate souls were subjected to treatments ranging from beatings, physical restraints, and starvation to try and fight off the “demons.”
There were, however, a few Greek and Roman doctors during this time that believed depression to be more of a biological and psychological illness instead of a spiritual one. These doctors, instead, treated their patients with more useful therapies like gymnastics, massage, diet, music, baths, and early medications comprised of ingredients from nature around them to try and lift their patients spirits. These few rebellious doctors may have been the minority during their time, but they were actually much closer to an actual effective treatment for depression than the majority was.
Since then, depression treatments have slowly evolved from being barbaric and imprecise to humane and accurate in both diagnosis and practical application. However, it was not until the 19th and 20th centuries that most of mainstream medicine began to acknowledge the condition as coming from the biological and psychological factors that we are familiar with today.
Sadly, even during this time, attempts to treat depression we’re still wildly inhumane and ineffective. It was common for doctors to prescribe lobotomies to treat depression, as they believed it produced a “calming” effect that their patients lacked. Instead of curing their condition, it typically caused personality changes, made decision making difficult, and was even fatal on some occasions.
In the 1950’s and 1960’s there was a shift in the understanding of depression. It was at this point that doctors decided to split depression into two subtypes: “endogenous” and “neurotic”. Endogenous depression was caused by a biological predisposition—like a chemical imbalance of serotonin—while neurotic depression came as a response to the environment—from losing a job, or losing a loved one.
The 1950’s were also when doctors first discovered an alternative use of a tuberculosis medication for treating depression. For the following decades, various drug therapies were developed with varying degrees of success.
Finally, in the 1980’s, the serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI)—like the Prozac we still use today—were first developed. These drugs were quickly adopted, and replaced the previously prescribed tricyclics as the main pharmaceutical for treating depression because they had fewer side-effects.
As research has progressed, so has the development of even more effective treatment options. The SSRIs are still the primary method of treatment, but there have been some recent developments that change things. Originally, serotonin was believed to be the sole neurotransmitter involved with regulating mood. However, recent developments have shown that others may also play a larger role. As a result, newer breakthrough treatments that affect other neurotransmitters—like ketamine infusions—have risen in popularity…significantly.
Medical research has shown a low-dose of ketamine effectively reduces depressive symptoms at a much more rapid pace than traditional antidepressants do. It is believed that ketamine—an NMDA-receptor antagonist—does this by operating through the glutamate system. Also, since it is administered intravenously, it is made 100% bioavailable, meaning all of the drug is used by the body, rather than just a fraction of it when delivered sublingually, orally or intranasally. Most recently, the FDA approved esketamine—the molecular isomer of ketamine—for the treatment of depression. This medication is prescribed under specific circumstances for treatment-resistant depression, and administered under clinical supervision at licensed clinics.
While there is no perfect depression treatment that will relieve the symptoms of depression in everyone, we are far beyond the times of bloodlettings and beatings. However, since everyone’s body and condition is different, there is still some trial and error involved before finding a depression treatment that works best. Fortunately, this means that, in order to overcome depression—through a little patience and persistence—it is very easy, very safe, and very possible.
RestoratIV Wellness provides ketamine infusions for those suffering from depression in the southern New Jersey and greater Philadelphia areas. Whether you are suffering from newly recognized chronic depression or have struggled with depression for years without hope, our clinic may be able to help. Request a free consultation using the form below and learn more about ketamine therapy, and find out if you’re a candidate for these life-changing infusions.