Ketamine is an anesthetic medication first developed in 1962. It is a commonly used medication, and while very potent, is also extremely safe, especially when administered by experienced anesthesia providers. While ketamine is safe, well studied for the treatment of depression and chronic pain, and FDA approved, it’s use as a treatment for depression is considered an “off label” use at this time.
Research over the past decade has shown that ketamine is helpful to about 70% of patients when given at low doses via the intravenous route. These benefits are often remarkable, including up to total resolution of feelings of depression or chronic pain lasting months for some patients. It is reasonable to expect rapid (though not immediate) improvements in functioning and mood. Relief is not typically an instant, “lightning strike” effect, but can be subtle at times. We vow to always work with you to recognize your results and constantly evaluate effectiveness of ketamine as a treatment for your depression or chronic pain. We want you to succeed, but don’t want to give false hope or continue expensive treatments if you are in the minority of people for whom ketamine does not provide improvement of depression or chronic pain symptoms. We are here to offer help and hope if you are suffering.
Ketamine’s mechanism of action is completely different from any other antidepressant or pain medications. Just how ketamine is working in the brain to relieve depression and chronic pain conditions is still under investigation.
We do know that it works in the brain on a neurotransmitter called Glutimate. This important neurotransmitter actually helps the brain repair neurons that have been damaged. Ketamine not only gives rapid relief of symptoms of depression in most patients, it also helps repair and regenerate nerve cells over time.
We can often see you within a few days of your call.
Yes, we require a referral from a physician or psychiatrist to begin treatment. We want you to succeed and believe that working as a team with your medical and mental health provider gives you the best chance for success.
It’s not hype. The results are real and are being studied closely by some of the most prestigious medical institutions in the world. The National Institute of Health has been studying ketamine as a treatment for depression for nearly 10 years. Researchers at Yale University published the first major study in the year 2000. Since then scientific studies have been conducted around the world including institutions such as Harvard, Oxford University, Mt. Sinai Medical School, and many more. We believe it is only a matter of time until the FDA catches up with the research and recognizes Ketamine for treatment of depression, chronic pain, PTSD, and other problems.
Ketamine is not a cure for depression or chronic pain, but is a highly effective and rapid treatment to help manage the symptoms of these debilitating diseases. The effect of a single infusion normally lasts around two weeks. After a typical series of six infusions some people remain symptom free for up to three months. We offer booster infusion sessions which can be administered every couple months, or more or less often, as needed.
While ketamine can be administered orally, intranasally, intramuscularly, and by other routes, they are not as effective as the intravenous route. When administered by other methods, much of the drug is destroyed by the liver before reaching the brain. Intravenous administration has been scientifically studied much more thoroughly than any other route of administration for treatment of depression and mental health conditions and treatment protocols have been developed through years of meticulous research and thousands of patient experiences. IV ketamine is by far the preferred method of administration to achieve maximum benefit from treatment.
After you complete a medical history and fill out a few simple forms, we will work with your primary care doctor or mental health professional to receive a referral from them. We request they also complete an acknowledgment of ongoing care before we begin treatment. After the referral is received, we will schedule an initial consultation with you. If we determine that you are a good candidate for treatment, you may begin your first infusion that day.
During your infusion appointment, an IV is placed in your arm or hand. We use spray and cream medications to numb the area, making the IV start virtually painless. Next, monitors are applied to record your vital signs during the treatment. The infusion typically lasts about 45 minutes. Afterwards, we will monitor you for 15-30 minutes before you are released to a friend or relative who can safely drive you home. You are encouraged to wear comfortable clothing and may bring a blanket or pillow from home if you wish.
You will be awake during the infusion and able to interact with those around you. It is best to relax quietly or listen to music, talking is discouraged. During the infusion, occasionally people experience nausea, dizziness, or mild hallucinations. If these occur they are typically mild and non-distressing and can usually be resolved quickly during your treatment.
The effects of ketamine wear off quickly once the infusion is stopped, although we ask that you refrain from driving until the day following the infusion.
It is important that you do not eat solid foods, soups, milk, or pulp containing juice for six hours before your appointment. You may have clear liquids such as water, soda, apple juice, Gatorade, black coffee, or clear tea up to two hours before your scheduled appointment time. Please do not eat or drink anything (including chewing gum and mints) for two hours prior to your appointment.
Ketamine, administered by skilled hands, is an extremely safe medication. Short term side effects can typically be resolved during the treatment session with treatment by medications and include small increases in blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting, dizziness, and visual misperceptions. Research over a span of 20 years has not shown any significant long term adverse effects from repeated ketamine infusions. Even at higher doses used in Complex Regional Pain Syndromes (CRPS), long term side effects have not been found.
According to research studies, approximately 60-80% of patients can experience significant improvement in symptoms of depression and chronic pain. Many even experience total resolution of symptoms. The onset of this relief typically comes within hours to days of treatment (not weeks as with other medications). Often, patients describe their ability to function more normally returns even before other symptoms are resolved. These effects usually last several weeks but some experience complete relief of depressed symptoms for up to three months. It is recommended that a minimum of 6 treatments be given to ensure maximum benefits.
Very few people would not qualify, medically, for treatment. Uncontrolled high blood pressure, congestive heart failure and some other conditions would require tight medical control before beginning treatment. Patients on a class of medication known as MAOI’s should not take ketamine. Due to a lack of research surrounding ketamine use with people with a history of psychosis, we are unable to offer treatment for this population at this time.