MakatiMed launches Philippines’ pioneering Esketamine Care Center for Treatment-Resistant Depression and Major Depressive Disorder with Imminent Suicide Intent


The top hospital in the Philippines, Makati Medical Center (MakatiMed), has established its own Esketamine Care Center for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and major depression with immediate suicide intent (MDSI), making it the first and only hospital-based facility in the Philippines and the second in all of Southeast Asia to offer the groundbreaking antidepressant therapy under the guidance of Carmina G. Bernardo, MD, the hospital’s Section of Psychiatry Mood Disorder Specialist. 

According to Dr. Bernardo, esketamine has been touted as a medical breakthrough that’s newly approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It works by modulating glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter that maintains memory, cognition, and mood regulation. This differentiates esketamine from typical antidepressants that focus more on boosting serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine levels to which many patients are not responding well. Esketamine presents an innovative treatment strategy that has the potential to swiftly enhance the well-being of individuals dealing with depression. 

To ensure that esketamine is the right option for a patient, MakatiMed psychiatrists as well as psychiatrists from hospitals all over the Philippines will first determine one’s indications and suitability. They will also discuss the potential adverse effects like hypertension, sedation, hallucinations, and dissociation with the patient, who must give their consent to proceed with the treatment. While the adverse reactions are brief and last no more than two hours, those with increased blood pressure and a history of aneurysms, vascular diseases, and hypersensitivity to esketamine are advised against taking the medication. 

Administered intranasally only at the MakatiMed Esketamine Care Center, esketamine is given at 2 - 3 devices per session for these conditions. The session begins by recording the patient's baseline vital signs, which is also monitored throughout the treatment. The patient's depressive symptoms, suicidal thoughts, and anxiety levels are also assessed throughout to help note signs of improvement after the session. 

While it is an outpatient treatment, the patient is expected to stay at the center for at least two hours for observation. One to two healthcare professionals will always be with the patient during the monitoring. If vital signs are stable and no adverse reactions are recorded during this period, the patient can be discharged from the Esketamine Care Center as long as they have a companion going home.

“The launch of MakatiMed’s Esketamine Care Center is a bold step forward for psychiatric treatments in the Philippines. Esketamine is a groundbreaking new treatment that provides unprecedented relief for depressive symptoms,” says Saturnino P. Javier, MD, Co-President and CEO and Medical Director at MakatiMed.

“For many patients who have already received esketamine therapy abroad, it’s given them an effective way to manage their symptoms for the first time in years. We hope it can do the same here and save more lives. It isn’t just a new milestone for our Section of Psychiatry, but also a ray of hope for people suffering from depression.”

MakatiMed Section of Psychiatry’s Esketamine Care Center is located at the Neuropsychiatry Unit, Basement, Tower 1.

For more information, please contact MakatiMed On-Call at +632.88888 999, email, or visit Follow @IamMakatiMed on Facebook and Twitter.