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Here's What You Need to Know About Ketamine Spray

A pain-relieving medication called ketamine spray may be useful in treating depression.

Ketamine spray has popped up in numerous research studies as a way to treat health conditions — such as pain and depression. But ketamine spray isn’t for everybody, which is why knowing if the benefits outweigh the potential risks is worth your while.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a class III drug that’s approved as an anesthetic in medical settings (such as hospitals), as this medication has hallucinogenic and tranquilizing effects. It’s used to induce loss of consciousness, relieve pain, and induce relaxation — and requires a prescription from your doctor when used outside a medical setting. The problem with ketamine (including ketamine spray) is its potential to be abused (it’s highly addictive) and possible side effects.

What’s Ketamine Spray Used For?

In outpatient settings, ketamine spray is mainly used for pain relief — but is being studied for other uses as well. One 2014 study published in Anesthesia Essays and Researchers found that ketamine spray is effective at controlling pain after tonsil removal in children.

Scientists have also looked at effects of ketamine spray on depression. Researchers who conducted a 2015 study published in World Psychiatry found that ketamine works rapidly to reduce depression and suicidal thoughts, and scientists are hopeful that ketamine treatment can reduce suicidal behavior (which is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S.).

However, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that ketamine nasal spray wasn’t tolerated well by depressed study subjects, many of whom experienced neurological side effects. Absorption rates of the medication varied between study participants as well. More research is needed to determine if possible health benefits outweigh risks involved in taking ketamine spray for depression and suicidal thoughts.

Is Ketamine Spray Safe?

Because ketamine spray can be a potent mind-altering drug when taken in large doses, a variety of side effects can occur. These include dizziness, fatigue, nausea, changes in hearing, headaches, feelings of unreality, mood changes, hallucinations, and general discomfort, say researchers who conducted a 2016 study published in the World Journal of Emergency Medicine. Ketamine is highly addictive, with potential for abuse if instructions aren't followed properly. So unless your doctor recommends it, you may want to steer clear of ketamine nasal spray.

Using Ketamine Spray

Use ketamine spray only as directed and under a doctor’s supervision, as serious side effects can occur. Because this medication has addictive properties, talk with your doctor to see if potential benefits (pain relief, reduced depression, and fewer suicidal thoughts) outweigh risks before making an informed decision about whether or not to use this product.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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