The adolescent and teenage years involve a transition into adulthood that can be a very difficult time in one’s life. Physiologic, mental, and social changes are understandably not always easy to deal with. And then there are fluctuations in hormones which can lead to mood swings, negative emotions and even high-risk behaviors that can have lifelong consequences. Depression is common and rising in this group of people. According to a 2021 Mental Health America report, severe major depression has increased in youth to a current rate of 9.7%. The pandemic brought a rise in rates of suicide across all child and adolescent populations, and the rates continue to rise. Suicide and school shootings have become common occurrences while resources for mental health are often limited.
According to a recent study in the American Journal of Psychology, intravenous ketamine has been found to be safe and highly effective in the adolescence population. Similar to adults, ketamine rapidly reduces depressive symptoms within 24 hours, has lastly effects for weeks, and side-effects are short-lived and well tolerated. Ketamine has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms by an astonishing 76% within one day. Clearly, we need to rethink our approach to improving mental health in the youth, provide more access to care, and prioritize treatments with rapid-onset and lasting antidepressant effects.
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