By Birgit Buerkner
Life felt easy for Andrea Richter (40, name and age changed). She worked successfully as a project developer and was in the public eye every day. Then the morning came when nothing worked. She could no longer get up, could no longer imagine speaking in front of many people.
A Depression! As one of around 50 patients to date, she has been given a chance for a new therapy option at the Vivantes Clinic in Spandau.
One spray in the left nostril, one spray in the right nostril…
Prof. Stephanie Krüger, chief physician of the Department of Mental Health at the Vivantes Clinic Spandau and Humboldt (Reinickendorf), has recently been offering depression patients the treatment option with esketamine nasal spray.
Ketamine, the raw material, is a synthetic anesthetic. Certain criteria must be met for use in depression patients.
“It has to be a psychiatric emergency, i.e. a patient whose life is in danger,” says Krüger, “or a person who has taken two or more antidepressants in therapeutic doses for a sufficiently long period of time without any effect, i.e. one has what is known as treatment-resistant depression.”
Despite medication and inpatient therapy, Andrea Richter felt trapped in “passive death”, as she calls it. She was now allowed to administer the spray herself eight times. Each under the supervision of a doctor and a psychotherapist.
She reports: “My body became heavy, my mind and soul alive. I started crying. I didn’t even know I had so many tears. Drawers opened that had been closed for a long time. I needed to speak. It was about past, present and future. It was like dropping ballast.”
Krüger: “Feelings that were walled in are released.” After each treatment, Andrea Richter felt better. International data show that the patients remained stable over a long period of time after the end of therapy.
Andrea Richter says: “I know now: I’ve always done a lot for other people and put my own needs aside. I’ll take more care of myself in the future.”