Esketamine vs. Ketamine: What Are the Differences?

esketamine vs ketamine

If you’re experiencing chronic pain, you’re not alone; 20% of U.S. adults share your woes. That translates to over 50 million Americans! Aside from suffering, chronic pain causes productivity losses of almost $300 billion yearly.

Even worse, chronic pain increases the likelihood of psychiatric conditions by threefold. These include mood, anxiety, or depressive disorders.

Fortunately, two drugs can help in treating both: esketamine and ketamine. They’re similar, but there are fundamental differences between the two.

To that end, we created this esketamine vs. ketamine guide to differentiate the two. Read on to discover what they are, their differences, and how they can help.

Esketamine vs. Ketamine: The Primary Difference

The primary difference is their molecular structure. This is due to esketamine only being a derivative of ketamine.

Ketamine contains two mirror-image molecules: R ketamine (arketamine) and S ketamine (esketamine). So, esketamine is just one part or the other half of ketamine. However, its potency exceeds that of ketamine.

What Is Ketamine? A Closer Look

Ketamine is a drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration for anesthetic uses. Under the FDA regulation, doctors can use it as a diagnostic and surgical anesthetic.

However, doctors may use off-label ketamine for chronic pain conditions. Off-label means that the FDA hasn’t approved its use for pain treatment. Still, studies found ketamine benefits chronic pain patients if administered correctly.

Another off-label use of ketamine is as a treatment for treatment-resistant depression (TRD). TRD is when a patient’s major depression doesn’t respond to at least two medications.

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Only a doctor can administer ketamine intravenously. One reason is that it’s a DEA Schedule III controlled substance. Schedule III drugs have a high addictive potential, which is why only doctors can give them.

So if you’d like to try this medication, go to a local ketamine treatment service. Here, a qualified doctor supervises your therapy and monitors you for side effects. These may include confusion, dizziness, dysphoria, nausea, and vomiting, to name a few.

What Is Esketamine For, Then?

Esketamine, like its “parent” drug, is also an FDA-approved medication. However, the agency only approved it for TRD. The FDA also requires its use together with a traditional antidepressant.

Esketamine is available as a nasal spray that only a doctor can administer. That’s because, like ketamine, it’s also a Schedule III drug. It can also distort perception during the first couple of hours of administration.

Also, remember that esketamine is more potent than ketamine. While this means it’s effective in lower doses, it can still cause side effects like ketamine.

Still, esketamine treatment is an outpatient therapy. Therefore, patients can leave the clinic on the same day. They can do so once their doctor confirms any side effects have disappeared.

Researchers confirm that esketamine used with an oral antidepressant is effective. So much so that 70% of patients treated experienced improvements in their condition. That’s also why the FDA expedited the drug’s approval.

Consider Ketamine or Esketamine Therapy Today

Now that you know more about esketamine vs. ketamine, it’s time to consider getting either. The former may be a better option if you have chronic pain. However, you may find the latter more helpful for TRD.

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In any case, please don’t delay seeking treatment for chronic pain or depression. Remember: People with such conditions are at a higher risk of mortality from suicide.

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