Matthew Perry was treated with ketamine for depression. This is how it differs from recreational use.

Weeks after his death on October 28, Matthew Perry’s autopsy revealed Friends the cause of death of the icons at their home in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Pacific Palisades. Perry died of the effects of ketamine, according to the Los Angeles County Medical Examiner’s autopsy report, and other factors contributing to her death were drowning, coronary artery disease and the effects of buprenorphine, a drug used to treat opioid use disorder. .

It is unclear why Perry, who has long been public about her struggles with drugs, had ketamine in her system. The actor underwent ketamine infusion treatment more than a week earlier as part of his mental health treatment, but the drug did not stay in his system for more than hours.

What to know about ketamine drug use

Ketamine is a drug that was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1970 for use as an anesthetic. However, in the 1990s, ketamine became a popular club drug, often referred to as special K. It can be ingested, swallowed, or injected, and is usually sold as a powder.

Ketamine can cause hallucinogenic effects and feelings of dissociation and euphoria. Although more research is needed on how ketamine works, its potential effects stem from targeting glutamate receptors in the brain, which can cause the brain to form new neural connections.

One of the side effects of ketamine recreational use is falling into the colloquial k-hole. According to VeryWell Mind, this is a strong feeling of dissociation, sometimes accompanied by intense and frightening hallucinations or illusions. Speech and the ability to move often suffer. Taking ketamine too often or in too high a dose can lead to heart problems, seizures, and cognitive problems.

How ketamine treatment differs from recreational use

Ketamine has also long been studied for its potential mental health benefits, especially in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression and suicidal thoughts. In 2019, the FDA approved a ketamine-derived nasal spray called esketamine as a treatment for depression that does not respond to traditional treatment methods such as SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors).

Although ketamine itself is not approved for the treatment of any psychiatric illness, ketamine clinics have sprung up across the United States to offer this treatment in an unusual way. Typically, these clinics offer ketamine intravenously or as a nasal spray. In addition to the fact that the patients are under the care of a doctor during the treatments, the dosage is also lower than as an anesthetic or an illegally used recreational drug.

Dr. Steven Levine, a board-certified psychiatrist who developed the protocol for clinical use of ketamine in 2011, previously told Yahoo that ketamine can help the brain heal and change, learn and become more flexible through its effects on glutamate receptors. . This is important for people with depression or suicidal thoughts because they are stuck in negative thinking and need help to cope.

“Only about 50% respond to ketamine treatments, maybe 60 to 70% have that lower bar of clinically significant results,” Levine previously told Yahoo. “So not many people are going to get this great benefit from ketamine. But I’ve seen people who were really at the end of the rope, who tried everything under the sun…people who really believe there was nothing on top. I’ve seen some really amazing dramatic responses.

Dr. Steven L. Mandel, founder and president of Ketamine Clinics Los Angeles, previously told Yahoo that ketamine can help people gain a different perspective on past trauma.

“[Ketamine therapy] gives people the courage to approach the event with their eyes open and say, “What was my role in this? And did that happen? Or is it the story I’m telling myself about what happened? They can come to terms,” ​​he explained. bullying and moving on.”

Although more research needs to be done, there is growing evidence to show that ketamine can be a good option for people struggling with mental health issues. A study published in December 2023 in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found significant improvement in symptoms of depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation.

Who is talking about ketamine treatment?

Perry wrote about ketamine treatments in his 2022 memoir Friends, lovers, and the great terrible thingwhich focused on his battle with addiction.

There is a synthetic form [ketamine] now, and it’s used for two reasons: pain relief and depression. If my name is written on it, they might as well call it “Matty,” he wrote. “Ketamine felt like a giant exhalation. They brought me into a room, sat me down, put headphones on so I could listen to music, blindfolded me, and put me on an IV.”

She’s not the only star who says she’s benefited from the treatments. Chrissy Teigen, who has been open about her own mental health journey, recently revealed that she underwent ketamine treatment on her birthday. Stars like Lamar Odom, who dealt with substance abuse issues like Perry, and Sharon Osbourne also praised the practice.

Reality star Tyler Baltierra Teenage mother Fame recently took the cameras inside a ketamine clinic where she received regular treatment. She told Yahoo that ketamine therapy quickly gets her to a meditative place and helps her stop intellectualizing her feelings.

“Doing it was a little scary at first, to be honest, but I was ready for the deep dive, especially when I was doing it with a therapist and medical professionals. Ketamine is a pretty calming experience, he said. I’ve done it recreationally and after learning a lot about it, I felt like this was the best way to really get to the heart of the issues I was experiencing.”

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