Depression Therapy Ketamine Therapy

Spravato vs. Traditional Antidepressants: What’s the Difference?

7 min read

Are you stuck in a cycle of trying different antidepressants, hoping that the next one will finally work? Research shows that nearly 3 million American adults have been suffering from treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Depression is a complex mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide, making finding the right treatment quite challenging. Traditional antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), have been the cornerstone of depression treatment for decades. However, not everyone responds positively to these medications, leaving some individuals with TRD and major depressive disorder (MDD) accompanied by acute suicidal ideation or behavior.

In recent years, Spravato has emerged as a promising alternative to conventional antidepressants. To help you determine the best course of action to alleviate the symptoms of your TRD, we will compare Spravato with traditional antidepressants, highlighting the unique features that set this innovative treatment apart.

Spravato vs. Traditional Antidepressants

Finding the right treatment for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) can be challenging, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. It’s important to explore your options, given the variety of antidepressants available. Both older and newer antidepressants affect brain receptors differently, which means individuals can have varied responses to these medications. This variability makes it difficult for psychiatrists to predict which treatment will be effective for each patient.

Traditional antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), have been the mainstay of depression treatment for many years. However, for those with TRD, these medications often prove insufficient. Spravato, a newer treatment specifically recommended for TRD, offers an alternative when traditional antidepressants fail. To better understand your options, let’s compare Spravato with traditional antidepressants and highlight what sets this innovative treatment apart.

How Traditional Antidepressants Work

Dopamine, norepinephrine, and serotonin are naturally occurring neurotransmitters in the brain. Traditional antidepressants work by increasing the levels of these chemicals over several weeks. The idea is that higher levels of these neurotransmitters enhance communication between brain cells, which should, in turn, improve mood. 

While these medications are effective for some people, others suffer from treatment-resistant depression (TRD). You may have TRD if you have tried two or more antidepressants for at least six weeks each without experiencing at least a 50% improvement in your mood or symptoms of depression.

How Spravato Works 

Spravato, a FDA-approved treatment has an active ingredient called esketamine, which is a derivative of the drug ketamine. Unlike traditional antidepressants that target serotonin, dopamine, or norepinephrine, Spravato operates on the glutamate system, a neurotransmitter linked to learning and memory. While the exact mechanism of Spravato is still being researched, it is believed to help restore certain synaptic connections in the brain, potentially alleviating depressive symptoms more rapidly by affecting more brain cells after just one dose. This unique action on glutamate and its potential to promote neurogenesis (the growth of new neurons) sets Spravato apart from conventional treatments, offering new hope for those with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).

How Long Until the Treatment Takes Effect?

The difference between Spravato and traditional antidepressants is the speed at which they take effect. Sometimes it’s not about impatience; the need to see results quickly can be crucial to alleviate feelings of hopelessness especially when dealing with the symptoms of depression. 

When Do Traditional Antidepressants Start Working?

Antidepressants usually require weeks, months, or even years of consistent use before any benefits start to be felt. It’s important to continue taking them even if mild side effects occur early on, as these typically wear off quickly. A course of treatment with traditional antidepressants lasts for at least 6 months after you start to feel better. For individuals who are dealing with recurrent depression, long-term or indefinite use might be recommended to manage their condition effectively.

When Does Spravato Start Working? 

Spravato (esketamine) nasal spray is a fast-acting treatment that works differently from traditional antidepressants. Clinical studies have found that patients with treatment-resistant depression typically saw improvements in their symptoms about four weeks after starting Spravato treatments, compared to those who took a placebo nasal spray. There have also been patients who have reported significant improvements with their mood within hours of their first Spravato treatment.

Administration of Spravato Treatments

The administration of treatments for treatment-resistant depression differs significantly. The method of administration can also influence the time it takes for the treatment to take effect, as well as the patient’s comfort with the administration method.

How Traditional Antidepressants are Administered

Traditional antidepressants are typically administered in the form of a daily pill and are self-administered at home. When prescribed, patients usually start with a low dose, gradually increasing as needed to improve symptoms. These medications come in various dosage forms, including oral tablets, extended-release tablets, suspensions, creams, and patches. It typically takes weeks, months, or even years of consistent use before any benefits are felt.

How Spravato is Administered

Spravato is administered as a nasal spray under the supervision of a healthcare professional in a clinical setting due to its potential side effects. The administration process of Spravato is straightforward: patients receive a nasal spray bottle containing the medication at the doctor’s office or at the clinic. The spray is then inserted into one nostril while the patient is seated with their head inclined backward at least 45 degrees.

Potential Side Effects and Cost

While these treatments can provide relief for depression symptoms, it’s important to be aware of potential side effects and costs associated with them.

Traditional Antidepressants: Side Effects and Cost 

While traditional antidepressants offer a solution that will help combat depression, they’re not without downsides. Some people experience common side effects like nausea, dizziness, or sleep problems, which often lessen over time. However, more serious side effects require talking to your doctor.  The cost can also be a concern, varying based on medication type, dosage, and insurance coverage.  Fortunately, there are strategies like checking for generic alternatives or using mail-order pharmacies to manage costs.  

Spravato: Side Effects and Cost 

While Spravato offers promise for treating treatment-resistant depression, it’s important to consider its potential drawbacks. Side effects such as nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and dissociation (a temporary feeling of disconnection from reality) can occur. Moreover, Spravato can be quite costly, and insurance coverage may vary. Therefore, it’s very important to explore financial options and consider potential out-of-pocket expenses before committing to treatment.

Spravato vs. Traditional Antidepressants: Which Should You Choose?

When it comes to deciding which depression treatment option is best for you, you should consult a healthcare provider. Taking Spravato requires a diagnosis of treatment-resistant depression and evidence that traditional treatments have been ineffective. Spravato represents an innovative approach to treating depression, providing hope for those who have not found relief with traditional antidepressants. Its unique mechanism of action, rapid onset of effects, and alternative method of administration distinguish it from traditional treatments. If you are considering Spravato, discuss with a trusted healthcare provider like Marpa Minds to determine the most suitable course of action based on your individual needs and circumstances.

Have any questions about Spravato Treatment? Get the answers you need at Marpa Minds, a New York-based depression clinic focused on providing you with the best treatment option for your treatment-resistant depression. Reach out to us today by calling 1877-88-MARPA.

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