So, what is ketamine treatment? Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic most commonly used in veterinary medicine, but in recent years, the drug has been noted to have therapeutic effects in humans for certain neuropsychiatric and chronic pain disorders.
In a double-blind study of 18 patients with major treatment-resistant depression, researchers found that the subjects who received ketamine experienced significant improvement in depression within 110 minutes of injection when compared to the control group. Of the group receiving the ketamine treatment, 71% responded to treatment and 29% met remission criteria the day following the IV infusion. Of these subjects, 35% maintained their initial response to the drug for at least 7 days post-treatment.
This breakthrough is nothing short of revolutionary considering that most conventional antidepressant drugs have a delayed onset of several weeks before patients achieve relief from their symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about ketamine and how it can provide therapeutic benefits for individuals who have not achieved remission through conventional treatment methods.
What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Ketamine infusion therapy is an off-label treatment option for individuals experiencing various medication-resistant neuropsychiatric disorders and/or chronic pain. The treatment involves the administration of a single infusion or a series of infusions of a therapeutic dose of ketamine to produce mild sedative and analgesic effects. Each session is carefully supervised by a board-certified physician in an environment designed to promote relaxation.
How does Ketamine Treatment Work?
Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist, meaning that it inhibits the transmission of electrical signals between neurons, or nerve cells, in the brain and spinal cord.
Studies indicate that when given in low doses, the brain is actually increasing the production of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that neurons use to communicate with one another. An increase in glutamate is thought to regenerate synapses—pathways in the brain that allow for the transmission of neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine, 2 chemicals generally considered to be low in individuals experiencing various psychiatric conditions. By restoring these pathways, the brain has an increased ability to absorb serotonin and dopamine, leading to a decrease in symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and OCD.
When administered in high doses, however, the drug is actually thought to block the release of glutamate in the brain, leading to a powerful analgesic effect with dissociative properties. These dissociative properties facilitate a sense of disconnection from the body and disruption to how the central nervous system processes external stimuli, which allows patients undergoing ketamine treatment to experience relief from a variety of chronic pain disorders.
Though ketamine only has FDA approval for use in induction and maintenance of general anesthesia in surgical procedures, it is still part of the vast majority (70%) of drugs that are prescribed off-label for at least one use and has been observed to have valid and significant therapeutic effects. The strength of the dose administered depends on the symptoms for which the patient is seeking treatment:
- Depression (Major, Bipolar, Postpartum)
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Migraine Headaches
- Chronic Pain
- Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
- Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy Syndrome (RSD)
IV Ketamine vs. Other Treatment Methods
As compared to traditional methods of treatment for both chronic pain and the aforementioned mood disorders, ketamine seems to be nothing short of a miracle drug. In addition to being able to block or increase the levels of glutamate available in the brain depending on the dose administered, ketamine also functions in a manner that inhibits the reuptake of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Since ketamine is able to target all of these receptor sites, it has a broader ability to treat symptoms that vary across comorbid disorders than the antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications widely available today.
Another benefit of IV ketamine therapy is the ability for patients to experience symptom relief almost immediately. With traditional medications, a patient has to wait weeks until there are noticeable pharmacological effects; ketamine, on the other hand, has measurable effects within hours of administration. This not only allows patients quicker relief from their symptoms, but it also has the potential to decrease suicidality that could stem from the continuation of depressive symptoms even after the patient has begun treatment or as a side-effect of the medication itself. In direct contrast to these traditional medications, ketamine is actually observed as decreasing suicidality among patients receiving IV treatment—a fact that is surely welcomed by anyone who has heard the warnings on prescription drugs commercials that list “increased risk of suicide” as a potential side-effect in patients who already might be experiencing suicidal ideation.
Will Ketamine Infusion Therapy Work for Me?
Here at Mindscape Ketamine and Infusion Therapy, we know how much mental illness and chronic pain can negatively impact your day-to-day functionality, and we’re here to help! If you or someone you know is suffering from any of the aforementioned treatment-resistant psychiatric or pain-related disorders, therapeutic ketamine treatment for depression could be the option that finally brings relief. Still wondering, “What is ketamine treatment, and how could it help me?” Contact our office to schedule a free consultation today to find out how therapeutic ketamine could work to improve your quality of life!
If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide, please tell someone who can help right away.
- Call your doctor’s office.
- Call 911 for emergency services.
- Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255) to be connected to a trained counselor at a suicide crisis center nearest you.