The FDA just approved a new antidepressant medication that comes in the form of a nasal spray.
The new drug, called Spravato, was made for people with major depression and who are resistant to medication. It is made from a "chemical cousin" of the anesthetic ketamine, which is often used illegally. Although ketamine use has the potential to lead to addiction, the FDA claims that there is no proof that Spravado has the same risk.
Unfortunately, even though it comes in similar packaging, the medication is not to be used freely like you would a saline nasal spray, which is used multiple times a day during allergy season or when sinus problems flare up (I know I'd like to have an antidepressant I could take on demand). It cannot be taken home and must be administered by doctors in a medical setting or self-administered under the supervision of a care provider. It will be given once a week or every other week, depending on the severity of a person's depression.
The drug is labeled as fast-acting, and works by "restoring brain cells in patients with treatment-resistant depression," according to CNN. Patients do need to be supervised for two hours after the drug is taken, though, due to possible side effects. In its announcement on the drug's approval, the FDA noted that some may include "sedation, and difficulty with attention, judgment and thinking (dissociation), abuse and misuse, and suicidal thoughts and behaviors after administration of the drug."
As CNN reports, the treatments for major depression are ineffective in 30 to 40 percent of people suffering from it. The spray is not intended to be the be-all and end-all for depression medication and rather for use by people who have already tried at least two antidepressants to no avail. It's also intended to act as a supplemental medication, and should be taken alongside another oral antidepressant.