'Like night and day': Emirati with depression benefits from new nasal spray

In only three months the patient stopped feeling suicidal and began feeling happier

A new nasal spray has helped a young Emirati with suicidal thoughts to regain control of her life.

Reem* has suffered from depression for years.

The 25-year-old experienced suicidal thoughts and was prescribed antidepressants by doctors. However, after trying five different types of medication her condition did not improve.

Even the simplest tasks like combing my hair seemed like a huge chore. I even began neglecting personal hygiene

Then she was prescribed a new drug called Esketamine, which targets different receptors in the brain to those traditionally addressed by antidepressant medications.

Abu Dhabi Heath Services company Seha recently said it had shown good safety profile and tolerability in patients.

Esketamine is made from a drug called ketamine, which is banned in many countries due to its association with abuse.

It was not until recently that esketamine, a refined and more potent form of the drug, earned the approval of regulators.

It was only after administering it via nasal spray that the patient began feeling better, she told The National.

Reem, who asked that her real name not be disclosed, began taking the drug in July.

“At that point even the simplest tasks like combing my hair seemed like a huge chore. I even began neglecting my personal hygiene,” she said.

One month after being prescribed the nasal spray, she said she began to feel a marked difference.

“It was like the difference between night and day. I began feeling happy again. The suicidal thoughts had gone and I began to resemble the old me,” she said.

She was put on a six-month course, beginning with a puff twice a week, with an aim to gradually reduce it to every other week.

The new treatment is being provided to patients at clinics across Abu Dhabi, including Sheikh Khalifa Medical City.

Dr Nahida Ahmed is a consultant psychiatrist and chairwoman of the behavioural health council at Seha.

“Mental health and its treatment differ from patient to patient, which is why we are pleased to add another treatment method to our services, giving us more bandwidth to explore treatment solutions that are as tailored to each patient as possible,” she said.

Updated: October 12th 2021, 9:47 AM