Esketamine Definition

Esketamine is a nasal spray version of the prescription anesthetic ketamine. Esketamine is an FDA-approved treatment for treatment-resistant depression when prescribed in conjunction with an oral antidepressant. Esketamine is only available through your doctor or a certified clinic. The brand name of esketamine is Spravato®.

Esketamine For Depression

Ketamine is a prescription anesthesia drug. It is often used during surgery. Ketamine is FDA approved as an anesthetic. However, ketamine has also been used for some time as an off-label treatment for depression and other mental health conditions.

Ketamine is also used illegally as a party drug, sometimes called Special K.

The FDA approval of ketamine’s nasal spray counterpart known as esketamine was just a few years ago, in 2019. Esketamine has a reputation for working quickly in some instances, with patients reporting relief in as little as a few hours.

However, esketamine for depression is not without its drawbacks.

For one, the cost of esketamine, especially without insurance, is prohibitive. The treatment lands in the thousands of dollars per month range, particularly in the beginning.

Furthermore, most doctors recommend that patients need to be observed for at least 2 hours following each treatment, and driving afterwards is prohibited. This makes the treatment unrealistic for people who do not have proper support. Hopefully, with more time and research, the costs for this medication may decrease and the logistics of treatment will become more accessible for all who could benefit.