Women & Mental Health

Women's History Month

For millennia, medicine has functioned on the assumption that male bodies represent humanity as a whole. As a result, we have a huge historical data gap when it comes to female bodies, and this data gap is continuing to grow as researchers continue to exclude female cells, animals, and humans, in their research.  

A Woman's Reality: Mental Health

According to Mayo Clinic, women are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression than men. Many factors can cause depression in women, including biological, circumstantial, or cultural. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state specifically that "1 out of 10 women in the United States reported symptoms that suggest they experienced an episode of major depression in the last year. Nationally, 1 in 8 women experiences postpartum depression."  

Generally speaking, the U.S. has seen an uptick in depression rates since the pandemic. Many people were negatively impacted due to various changes in their lives. Mental Health America conducted research that resulted in the following findings, "In 2019, just before the pandemic, 19.86% of adults experienced a mental illness and over half of the adults with a mental illness who report unmet need for treatment has increased every year since 2011." The Kaiser Family Foundation conducted an earlier study at the onset of the pandemic. The foundation found that "Nearly half (45%) of adults in the United States reported that their mental health has been impacted negatively due to stress and worry over the pandemic." 

Ketamine & the Female Body: Bridges and Gaps in Research

However, the impact of mental health on women is lacking in research and documentation. While there has been an increase in research on Ketamine and the brain, most studies are geared toward the male gender. Future research could assist in knowing how women respond to Ketamine treatment, whether in an emergency or over a longer period. In this regard, it is crucial to discuss the gender disparities in Ketamine treatments in women. "It is plausible that men and women may respond differently to Ketamine treatments. Women may respond variably based on reproductive lifecycle status, specifically regarding whether they are pre-or postmenopausal" (Freeman et al., 2019).  

Ketamine research is still in the early stages, and most are comparisons of male versus female rodents. "In humans, few studies have yet to inform whether Ketamine administration might have clinically important gender differences in treating depression or other neuropsychiatric indications. (Niciu et al., 2014, as referenced in Freeman et al., 2019). Katherine N. Wright and Mohamed Kabbaj conducted a study published in the Current Opinion in Behavioral Sciences in 2018 called "Sex differences in Sub-Anesthetic Ketamine's Antidepressant Effects and Abuse Liability." They reported that "While females are included in clinical research, few studies investigating Ketamine's antidepressant effects analyze sex as a variable." Women may have some sensitivities to Ketamine treatments which has physicians asking questions like "Where is the threshold at which the benefits of therapeutic antidepressant Ketamine becomes overshadowed by its risk of addiction? As women are twice as likely to develop depression and progress through the stages of addiction faster than men, are they at an increased risk?" (Wright and Kabbaj, 2018).  

While many women experience positive outcomes by treating depression with Ketamine, the research is still lacking. Despite how far we've come in the history of women and the medical industry, including women in clinical data and trials is still a work in progress. It's hard to believe that it was not until 1993 that Congress included women in clinical research into law, known as the "Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research" (National Institutes of Health [NIH], n.d.).  

 "There is recognition today of the need to include women sufficiently in clinical trials, in previous decades, the consideration and inclusion of men overshadowed women in clinical research design and conduct. This was observed when studying diseases prevalent in both sexes, where males, frequently of the Caucasian race, were considered to be the "norm" (Liu and Mager, 2016)."  

Avesta Ketamine & Wellness

Owned and operated by a woman, Avesta Ketamine & Wellness offers a safe space for women who are on their journey toward self-discovery. Our ketamine infusion treatment options are uniquely tailored to suit your needs and are dependent on symptoms. Don't wait; contact us today for your free consultation.  



COVID-19 and Behavioral Health. Primary Care and Development Corporation. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.pcdc.org/covid-19-and-behavioral-health/?creative=467501987195&keyword=mental%20health%20and%20coronavirus&matchtype=b&network=g&device=c&gclid=Cj0KCQjw5-WRBhCKARIsAAId9FnHnrwva_Oozb8d-aeuPwxowtwbSUZbKZM4VoYybLTGwDSCso8jm1QaAvAsEALw_wcB 

Depression in Women: Understanding the Gender Gap. Mayo Clinic. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/depression/in-depth/depression/art-20047725 

Depression Among Women. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/depression/index.htm 

Depression in Women. Mental Health America [MHA]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from  https://www.mhanational.org/depression-women 

Fliesler, N. How the Antidepressant Ketamine Rapidly Awakens the Brain, and Why Its Effects Vary More in Women. Boston Children's Hospital. (February 15, 2019). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://answers.childrenshospital.org/how-the-antidepressant-ketamine-rapidly-awakens-the-brain-and-why-its-effects-vary-more-in-women/ 

Freeman, M et al. Sex Differences in Response to Ketamine as a Rapidly Acting Intervention for Treatment-Resistant Depression. (2019). Journal of Psychiatry Research, 166-171, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6360121/ 



History of Women's Participation in Clinical Research. National Institutes of Health [NIH]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://orwh.od.nih.gov/toolkit/recruitment/history 

Liu, K. and Mager, N. Women's Involvement in Clinical Trials: Historical Perspective and Future Implications. (2016). Pharmacy Practice, 14(1), 708, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4800017/ 

The State of Mental Health in America. Mental Health America [MHA]. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2022, from https://www.mhanational.org/issues/state-mental-health-america 

Wright, K. and Kabbaj, M. Sex Differences in Sub-Anesthetic Ketamine's Antidepressant Effects and Abuse Liability. (2018). Current Opinion in Behavioral Science, P. 36-41,  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6054453/ 


 Photographed by Ehimetalor Akhere Unabona

Dr. Ladan Eshkevari, PhD, CRNA, FAAN Dr. Eshkevari is the lead clinician at Avesta, and is a long time researcher and educator in physiology, biophysics, and anesthesiology. She is passionate about assisting patients with retractable, difficult to treat mood disorders, and relies on the latest research to bring evidence to Avesta's practice to better understand and serve patients.

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