BRADENTON, Fla. (WFLA) – A new FDA-approved nasal spray to treat severe depression is seeing success. Patients describe it as a game-changer, a breakthrough, restoring their path to happiness and a sense of normalcy.
People are getting their lives back.
The nasal spray gained FDA-approval in March and is considered a “chemical cousin” of Ketamine, also known as the party drug “Special K.” It originally rose in popularity back in the 1990s at rave parties where fans of the psychedelic substance used it often.
Years later, the drug would find a new use – saving lives.
Those lives are being saved right here at home in Tampa Bay at Bradenton’s Centerstone Behavioral Hospital where patients are now being offered the nasal spray for crippling depression.
Right now, two young men, one in his twenties, the other in his thirties, are the first to undergo treatment. Doctors and counselors at Centerstone tell 8 on your Side that they’re excited about helping people thrive.
“It’s one option, and it’s a very good option we recommend to people,” said Centerstone’s Medical Director, Dr. Jose Zaglul. “How can we help people, and how can we help them in a quick way.”
The nasal spray is administered on-site at Centerstone, under doctor supervision, followed by an observation period of two hours. After the treatment, the patients are not allowed to drive and must have a family member or friend drive them home. The course of treatment is typically two months.
Through research and studies, Spravato, chemically known as esketamine, has lowered levels of depression dramatically in patients, especially those who did not respond to traditional medications.
Spravato promises improvement in those suffering from debilitating depression. It was designed to be a lower-dose version of ketamine. One side-effect, in particular, is gaining positive feedback that physicians are pleased to see.
The drug is fast-acting.
Those who are in crisis are able to see results in a short time frame, when they need it most. It is the immediacy, experts say, that becomes crucial in helping a patient with “treatment-resistant” depression.
Dr. Zaglul told 8 on your Side, this medication is designed to be fast-acting. He says the effectiveness kicks in quickly, much more so than patients waiting weeks for relief. It is especially key, he says, when people are experiencing suicidal thoughts or tendencies.
“We want to be able to help someone and not have them have to wait two to four months to feel better. They need help now,” said Dr. Zaglul.
So, what about those who doubt the nasal spray?
“I think I had that reaction at first. Ketamine? But, I’ve seen all the data, and I believe in it,” said Centerstone’s CEO, Melissa Larkin-Skinner. “I believe this is a game changer. And, though it may not work for everybody, like all medications don’t work for every person, for even one person, it means the world.”
Doctors were quick to point out that Spravato may not be for everyone.
It is meant to be utilized in severe cases, physicians maintain, where traditional depression medications have not worked. According to the FDA, more than 7 million American adults suffer from depression that’s considered “treatment-resistant.”
The medication also has side-effects, including an increase in blood pressure, says Dr. Zaglul. To speak with counselors at Centerstone and inquire about possible Spravato treatment, you can call 941-782-4610 or visit Centerstone.org.