Ketamine Inhaler – Bipolar Child NPR – Review of Ketamine for Depression


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NPR reported yesterday on the beneficial effects of ketamine for depression, this time reporting on a ketamine inhaler prescribed by Demitri Papolos, MD.

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Dr. Papolos is Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Director of Research of the Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation.

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He “is one of a handful of psychiatrists in the world who began to see and to speak out about the possible deleterious effects of antidepressants and stimulants in the population of children within the bipolar spectrum.”

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This NPR report described a syndrome Dr. Papolos has identified of Bipolar children & adolescents consumed by fear. They described a boy who had extreme attacks of rage for decades, and horrific violent nightmares.

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The boy had attempted suicide at age 5. He was hospitalized in a psychiatric unit at age 12 and strapped down in a padded room, terrified. He failed many medications for years, some made him worse, and he was literally never able to complete a meal at table with the family without flying off in a rage or someone leaving.

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in 2010, the boy tried Dr. “Papolos’ ketamine treatment. He says he’ll remember the day for the rest of his life. ‘I think we did two puffs, and I remember I sat up and I just started laughing,’ he says. Then his mother picks up the story: ‘You said you had an internal feeling of calm that you had never had before in your life. And when we came home that night, that was the first night that we ever all had dinner at the table without somebody leaving.'”

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This boy, George McCann, now at age 22 is finally able to begin a more normal life. He needs the medication only every third day. “Papolos has treated about 60 young people with ketamine so far and says all but two have had dramatic responses.”

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“The number of patients treated so far is small, and the approach is so new it hasn’t been tested by other researchers yet. Papolos says he’s hoping a study he published late last year will help persuade other researchers to try the drug on other children.”

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“In the meantime, George McCann continues to inhale a prescribed dose of ketamine every third day. The fear and anger that once dominated his life are gone, he says, adding that his mind is free now to work….”

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The relief with ketamine from the prison of mood disorders is deeply important. Severe mood disorders such as Major Depression and Bipolar Disorder can destroy the lives of patients and their loved ones. At worst, they can be lethal.

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A review of published cases of intravenous ketamine for depression asks : “Ketamine for depression: where do we go from here?

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I think the answer is we need to simplify the method of treatment using inhaled ketamine and begin to give their lives back to the patients we see. It is one of the safest medications I have ever prescribed. It does not cause weight gain or loss. It does not cause sexual dysfunction. And although it may increase sedation when used in combination with other sedating medications, at the low doses needed to treat mood disorders, I do not see ketamine interfere with other medication.

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Ketamine can relieve depression from one second to the next. And this young man needs the medication every third day. Is that too much to ask to gain a life?

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The material on this site is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for

medical advice, diagnosis or treatment provided by a qualified health care provider.

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If you wish an appointment, please telephone my office or contact your local psychiatrist.

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