What is ketamine?
Ketamine is a complex substance that is recognized as a harmful illicit drug while simultaneously being listed on the WHO’s List of Essential Medicines. It was initially discovered in the 1950s and human trials were started in 1964 before the drug was eventually approved in the US in 1970. Ketamine is often used as an anesthetic by veterinarians and medical practitioners.
This drug is known for causing psychedelic side effects, resulting in hallucinatory experiences in users, such as feeling, tasting, smelling, hearing, or seeing stimuli that aren’t’ present in reality. Studies and clinical trials have been conducted to determine ketamine’s ability to treat depression with many revealing and intriguing results.
As it stands now, ketamine used for depression is illegal unless prescribed and administered under the supervision of a licensed professional.
Is ketamine therapy effective for depression?
Although many studies have been conducted and others are underway or in early planning stages, it’s too early to conclusively determine if ketamine is effective in treating depression. However, of the studies that have been conducted, there are some results that leave many wondering if ketamine can help treat depression.
Four studies undertaken in 2009 showed that one administration of intravenous Ketamine resulted in a “rapid improvement of treatment-resistant depression.” The most rapid antidepressant response of note was noticed within just 40 minutes while the slowest occurred within around four hours.
Another important study looked at ketamine’s impact on treatment-resistant patients. It was discovered that the drug led to a reduction in suicidal ideation in just a day. Other studies underscored the potentially potent impact of single injections of ketamine to treat MDD in addition to treatment-resistant unipolar depression.
Over a period of 12 days, Aan het Rot et al. gave patients three doses of the drug weekly. It was shown that ketamine offered symptom relief in four hours. Depression ratings also fell by 85% on average after the sixth infusion. Although it took a mean of 19 days for relapse to occur after the final injection, this particular study highlights ketamine’s potential “short-term effectiveness in the treatment of acute depression.”
What do experts say about using ketamine for depression?
Here are some comments about ketamine for depression from prominent individuals.
“When you prescribe Prozac, you have to convince people that it’s worth taking a medication for several weeks…With ketamine, patients may feel better that day, or by the next morning.” – John Krystal, neuroscientist at Yale University
“Recent data suggest that ketamine, given intravenously, might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.” – Thomas Insel, Director of NIMH
What other conditions is ketamine therapy used to treat?
- Ketamine for anxiety
- Ketamine injections for depression
- Ketamine for OCD
- Ketamine for bipolar disorder
- Ketamine for chronic pain
- Ketamine assisted therapy or psychotherapy
What are the risks of ketamine therapy for depression?
When used and administered under medical conditions, ketamine for depression is often considered a relatively safe substance. However, the use of ketamine can come with a variety of side effects including:
- Difficulty learning or thinking
- Body dissociation
- Dilated pupils
- Slurred speech
- Behavioral changes
- Irregular heartbeat
- Upset stomach
- Loss of appetite
How can I receive ketamine treatment for depression?
There are two ways in which an individual can receive Ketamine for depression: at a clinic or at home.
In-clinic ketamine therapy
Even though the FDA has yet to approve many forms of ketamine for depression, there are some clinics that are already administering off-label ketamine through dissolvable pills or IV infusions for depression along with other mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder or bipolar disorder.
At-home ketamine therapy
Many people are surprised to realize that there are even treatments involving Ketamine for depression which can take place from the comfort of your own home. Mindbloom is one particular company that offers a telemedicine option where Ketamine pills are delivered directly to the patient.
What happens during sessions for ketamine for depression?
How long is a typical session for IV?
When ketamine for depression infusions are being conducted for patients with a mood disorder, a low-dose session can last for a few hours. The administration of the ketamine lasts for 50 to 55 minutes, and patients remain awake during the entire process. After the infusion is completed, patients can often leave within 20 to 30 minutes.
How long is a typical session for intramuscular?
There’s not a suitable estimate for the length of an intramuscular ketamine treatment for depression since this form of administering has been relatively overlooked when compared to its IV counterpart.
How long is a typical at-home ketamine therapy session?
There aren’t enough providers offering at-home ketamine therapy for depression to offer an accurate estimation.
What will I feel during the session?
During a ketamine for depression session, many patients have a moderate experience of dissociation. There’s an enhanced sensitivity to sound and light along with a skewed perception and understanding of time. For many, these feelings are tolerated without any discomfort. Some might even find the feelings interesting or pleasant. When these side effects are perceived by the patient as unpleasant, there are medications that can counteract the discomfort.
How much do ketamine infusions cost?
Treatments involving ketamine infusions for depression are relatively costly. This is partially due to the general lack of acceptance this treatment receives from the larger medical community and relevant governing bodies since a lot of research has yet to be conducted to determine its efficacy.
Currently, a ketamine infusion can cost anywhere from $400 to $800. Since the effects of ketamine are temporary, some patients require treatment every few weeks in order to prevent symptoms from becoming too pronounced. When going bi-weekly, a patient receiving ketamine infusions for depression can end up paying over $15,000 yearly.
Am I eligible for insurance coverage?
Unfortunately, it’s not common for insurance companies to provide coverage for a ketamine therapy for depression. Again, this is partially due in part to the lack of FDA approval surrounding this treatment.
Does ketamine therapy intervene with my current treatment plan?
Ketamine isn’t known to interact with many medications, but it’s still early in the general study of this treatment to make any stringent statements. It’s critical to discuss with your doctors whether ketamine therapy for depression is a suitable choice beforehand. Patients should also discuss with ketamine clinics what medications they’re taking.
What to look for in a good ketamine provider?
- Experience – Although it’s a relatively new treatment for depression, you want to make sure that ketamine providers have sufficient experience and expertise in the field.
- Qualifications – It’s critical to ensure that a ketamine provider has all of the necessary qualifications, certifications, and licenses to legally and professionally provide this treatment.
- Reviews – You want to make sure past patients have positive things to say about their experiences at the clinic. Reputable providers should be able to offer you these reviews upon request.
I am ready to take the next step, what do I do?
If you’re interested in learning more about ketamine therapy and whether it’s a suitable choice for you, please fill out the assessment below. It should only take you a few minutes. Afterward, you can schedule a free consultation with one of our representatives to get all of your questions answered.
Please check out our in-depth article about ketamine therapy for more information.
While it’s not exactly clear, ketamine seems to bind to NMDA receptors which end up boosting the amount of glutamate in between the neurons. This glutamate stimulates AMPA receptors, and these two effects result in the communication of neurons through new pathways which can impact mood.
To get ketamine for depression, patients need to have a prescription from a qualified medical practitioner.
There are some clinics located in the United States that offer ketamine treatment for depression.
Disclaimer: This website does not provide medical advice. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.