GAME-CHANGER: Depression nasal spray acts fast, patients thrilled with results

8 On Your Side

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – A game-changer. A life-saver. A medical breakthrough.

A new nasal spray, just approved by the FDA from Johnson & Johnson, is promising patients major relief.

It is considered a “chemical cousin” of Ketamine, also known as the party drug “Special K,” which originally rose in popularity back in the 1990s at rave parties where fans of the psychedlic substance used it often.

Years later, the drug would find a new use – saving lives..

Through research and studies, the drug, chemically known as esketamine, would lower levels of depression dramatically in patients, especially those who did not respond to traditional medications.

The FDA just announced approval of the medicine, administered via nasal spray.

Now available on the market, Spravato promises improvement in those suffering from crippling depression, designed to be a lower-dose version of ketamine.

Physicians say they like one side effect, in particular.

The drug is fast-acting.

Those who are in crisis can get immediate relief, experts say.

The speed in which it operates, according to one physician, is a major breakthrough.

“Depressed patients are very disabled and suffer enormously,” said Dr. John Mann, a psychiatrist and researcher at Columbia University.

According to the FDA, more than 7 million American adults suffer from depression that’s considered “treatment-resistent.”

This nasal spray offers an alternative for treatment, experts say. 

“We all deserve to be able to reach our full potential and be happy,” said Dr. Stacey Scheckner, a well-known licensed psychologist in private practice for 15 years.

She’s thrilled to hear this latest development announcing a medical breakthrough of this type, especially for those who haven’t had any luck with other medications.

“If you’ve tried the typical ones, and theyr’e not working, and they’re not benefitting you, or you have too bad side effects, let’s try other ones that are FDA-approved that have been tested where the benefits outweigh the negatives,” said Dr. Scheckner from ‘Happy Counseling’ in Tampa.

This longtime psychologist says she’s excited when new medications gain FDA-approval.

However, she advises caution to those who utilize this new medication, citing the addictive nature of Ketamine.  She also encourages patients contemplating usage of the prescription to do so only under the care of a licensed medical professional, in conjunction with continued therapy.

“Depression is a cancer of the brain,” she said. “It’s all about the chemicals in the brain, and there is medicine to help. People need to talk about their problems. We need to talk about mental health, and there doesn’t need to be a stigma. If you had diabetes, you’d need insulin. If you have physical problems, you need medicine. No one should be denied that.”

Clara Reynolds is the CEO and president at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

She describes this medication as big news in the world of mental health and is thrilled to know a new medicine is out there to help those who are hurting.  

“The thing that I’m so excited about is that we’re having a conversation about new medications available,” Clara told WFLA.

If you are in crisis and need to speak with a counselor, the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay is ready to listen 24-7.  You can call the center by dialing 211. 

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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