CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — As many as one-third of adults with clinical depression battle debilitating symptoms that don’t respond to antidepressants. For these patients, ketamine infusions offer hope when other therapies have failed.
Dr. Eric Evans created Desert Sands Ketamine Treatment Center to provide the people of Southern Utah with another treatment option for depression and other mental health disorders. Having worked as a board-certified anesthesiologist for nearly 30 years, he said he’s never been as excited about doing something in medicine.
“Ketamine has been nothing short of miraculous for a lot of people in our clinic,” he added. “With ketamine, people can wake up in the morning and joy is a possibility for them again.”
A new frontier in mental health treatment
Evans administers therapeutic doses of ketamine, a drug most commonly used in anesthesia, via IV infusion to provide rapid relief and lasting improvement for people living with mood disorders as well as chronic pain. Patients also have access to resources for improving all aspects of their well-being, including dietary guidance, meditation, massage therapy, relationship counseling and talk therapy.
“We try to use a complete approach to each patient,” he said. “We love to help people become more functional and get back to feeling like themselves.”
Winter blues or something more?
This time of year can be especially difficult for anyone struggling with their mental health, Evans said. People often experience worsening depression during the colder months. Possibly triggered by reduced sunlight, seasonal affective disorder is characterized by mood swings, feelings of hopelessness, fatigue and social withdrawal. Symptoms typically start in the fall and continue through the winter.
Depression and anxiety can be further exacerbated by the stress of the holiday season. People with difficult family relationships may dread holiday gatherings, while others without any family to visit can feel lonely and excluded. And again this year, many will spend the holidays physically isolated as a result of pandemic concerns.
Adding ketamine to your toolbox
Ketamine targets the amygdala, the area of the brain responsible for processing moods and emotions in the conscious mind. While most antidepressants focus on boosting serotonin levels, ketamine instead elevates a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Evans highlighted ongoing research at Yale University indicating that depression and other mental health disorders are caused by a shortage of this protein.
In clinical trials, ketamine demonstrated a success rate of 70%, nearly double that of common antidepressants. And while prescription drugs for depression typically take between four and eight weeks to reach maximum efficacy, many ketamine patients start feeling better after their first infusion.
“While those other medications can be a very useful part of the recipe for helping someone’s mental health, ketamine is a great additional tool because it works in a different way,” Evans said.
Better results with fewer side effects
While there are a host of antidepressants available to patients, many of them come with a bevy of unpleasant side effects such as nausea, insomnia, erectile dysfunction and weight gain. Evans said another common complaint among people taking antidepressants is that although the medication eliminates their emotional lows, it often takes away the highs as well. However, that numb state isn’t a concern with ketamine.
“Ketamine leaves those things intact and yet treats people’s mental health issues in a unique and new way,” he said.
Although some patients choose to wean off antidepressants once they achieve lasting results from infusion therapy, Evans said ketamine can be used safely in combination with a variety of medications for mood disorders. It’s not a habit-forming substance and is easily tolerated by most people.
Patients shouldn’t trust just any ketamine provider with their therapy, however. Desert Sands Ketamine is recognized as the Best of Southern Utah, winning gold in alternative therapies as well as silver in the behavioral/mental health treatment category.
Evans was inspired to create Desert Sands Ketamine alongside his wife, an acute pain nurse, as a way to bring new hope to people suffering from treatment-resistant depression. As a St. George native, his desire to aid the community truly comes from his heart.
“There is a huge need in Southern Utah,” he said. “I just want to help as many people as I can.”
Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.
• S P O N S O R E D C O N T E N T •
- Desert Sands Ketamine Treatment Center | Address: 346 E. 600 South, St. George | Telephone: 435-522-5190 | Email: [email protected] | Website.
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