UAE: Patients battling depression find relief with new nasal spray

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Abu Dhabi - Seha has launched this novel therapy for patients experiencing treatment-resistant depression.


Ashwani Kumar

Published: Sat 9 Oct 2021, 4:52 PM

Last updated: Sat 9 Oct 2021, 7:36 PM

The UAE’s largest healthcare network has started using the new nasal spray for the treatment and management of severe depression in adults.

The Esketamine nasal spray provides relief to people who have tried other antidepressant treatments but with little or no benefit, according to the doctors of Abu Dhabi Health Services Company (Seha).

The drug was recognised in the UAE in 2020, after it was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the US and the European Medicines Agency.

Seha has launched this novel therapy for patients experiencing treatment-resistant depression.


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Esketamine targets new receptors in the brain, not those which were traditionally addressed by antidepressant medications. It is now being administered at the psychiatry clinics of the Ambulatory Healthcare Services; Sheikh Khalifa Medical City; and Al Ain Hospital.

“Mental health issues and their treatment differ from patient to patient, which is why we are pleased to add another therapy to our services, giving us that can be tailored to each patient,” said Dr Nahida Niaz Ahmed, consultant psychiatrist and chair of the Behavioural Health Council at Seha.

Many patients, who received the treatment, underlined that Esketamine worked.

A 30-year-old man — who had been struggling with a major depressive disorder for the past six years — was prescribed Esketamine after trying other types of medication and even shock therapy to no avail.

A month after using the nasal spray, however, he noticed a positive impact on his outlook and lifestyle. Now, he exercises daily and interacts with people. He is even motivated to find a job and support his family.

A 20-year-old woman, who was diagnosed with severe depression and found no benefit from previous medications, has seen her condition improve with the nasal spray. Her suicidal thoughts have also decreased.

Another young man — who had isolated himself in his room and stopped studies for over three years — is back in school and on his way to college, thanks to the new treatment.

Seha boasts an extensive array of specialties and departments that are prepared to treat patients with mental health issues. It offers telemedicine services and has set up mobile clinics, specialised psychiatric centres, and home care.

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