What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a medication consistently used as a surgical anesthesia for more than 50 years with children, adults, and animals. Researchers later became aware of ketamine’s ability to relieve depression, anxiety, and some pain disorders in less than 24 hours after administration. Ketamine therapy, administered by qualified medical professionals, is now helping patients with major depression, bipolar depression, PTSD, and pain syndromes such as Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS) or Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), to rapidly experience relief of their mental and physical symptoms, improving both mood and function – and producing hope.
What is Ketamine Therapy?
Ketamine is used to treat depression, suicidal thoughts, PTSD, and nerve-related pain.
Small doses of ketamine are carefully administered by medical professionals in a series of slow intravenous (IV) infusions. These small doses of ketamine have very different effects on the body than when it is taken in large doses, as during surgery or when it is when illegally used as a “party drug.” Your doctor will determine if you are a suitable candidate for ketamine therapy.
70-80% of those receiving a ketamine treatment experience symptom relief within the following 24 hours. Ketamine quickly metabolizes and is clear of the body within 24 hours of administration, but the symptom relief can last for days, weeks, or even months. Ketamine is not a permanent fix, however. For continued relief, booster treatments are needed. The length of time between these booster treatments varies depending on individual responses.
What is a Ketamine Treatment like?
Ketamine therapy patients generally report experiencing an out-of-body response during the administration of the drug, which usually wears off within 30-60 minutes post-infusion. Other side effects may include changes in heart rate or blood pressure, confusion, or nausea. Side effects usually subside before being released from the office after a treatment.
Is Ketamine Therapy safe?
The low doses of ketamine used in therapy, especially administered in a medically supervised setting, eliminate virtually all potential for addiction or abuse. For the duration of a ketamine infusion, blood pressure and heart rate may increase – therefore patients with uncontrolled blood pressure, unstable heart disease, untreated thyroid disease should not use ketamine. People with active substance abuse, active psychosis, or patients who are currently experiencing the manic phase of bipolar disease also should not use ketamine treatments. Ketamine is contraindicated during pregnancy. Patients undergoing treatments are monitored closely to ensure safety during the acute course. Long-term safety studies of repeated ketamine infusions have not been published.
Some medications interfere with ketamine, and you should talk to your doctor about all medications you are taking before starting treatment.
What happens after a treatment?
For 70-80% of patients treated, ketamine provides a break from debilitating symptoms of depression within 24 hours of a ketamine treatment, but it is not a permanent cure. These breaks last different lengths of time for each individual and can range from a day to months at a time. Booster treatments can be given to extend the symptom relief.
To maximize your treatment results, follow through on other methods of treatment for your depression during the breaks ketamine treatments provide. Because of the repairs made to the communication systems in your brain, psychotherapy, or talk-therapy, is often more effective at this point.
Is Ketamine Therapy covered by insurance?
Not at this time. Ketamine is not FDA approved for treating depression; therefore, it is considered “off-label use” and not covered by insurance. However, the new information provided by research into ketamine’s treatment of depression has inspired research into an entirely new category of drugs, requiring a fresh understanding of how depression works on the brain.
How do I know if Ketamine Therapy is right for me?
If you are interested in Ketamine Therapy for you or a loved one, please call us. We would be happy to help you determine whether Ketamine Therapy is right for you.
Tammy Saah, MD
Director of Ketamine Services
Dr. Saah’s clinical and research interests are focused in Treatment Resistant Depression(TRD), with emphasis on advanced psychopharmacology, novel therapeutics (ketamine), and Neuro-modulation (rTMS).