Many people are talking about the wonder of ketamine therapy for depression. Some professionals have even suggested that ketamine could be the biggest breakthrough in depression treatment in decades. If you’re curious, here are five things you should know.
1. Ketamine isn’t Taken like Other Drugs
Most anti-depressants come in pill form. You swallow them at the same time every day and hopefully they work (although unfortunately they often don’t.) Ketamine is different. Ketamine can be inhaled as a nasal mist. Alternatively, and more commonly, ketamine is given through an IV.
Of course, like any drug, ketamine itself can be consumed in many ways. When people use it recreationally, instead of medically, they can swallow, snort, or inject it. However, doing so changes the way it acts in the body. People who take ketamine for depression under the supervision of a doctor will get the infusion therapy or the nasal spray.
2. Ketamine is a Fast-Acting Depression Treatment
When your doctor prescribes you regular anti-depressants, they tell you that it can take up to eight weeks for the drugs to take effect. You shouldn’t expect to see immediate results. Ketamine is different. Ketamine infusion therapy works quickly. You can see results in as little as forty minutes. However, most people get symptom relief in a few hours, and it can take up to 24 hours to fully kick in. Even so, one day is a lot shorter time for getting that relief than eight weeks is!
3. Ketamine is Well-Known for Medical Benefits
Ketamine, known in the recreational drug world as Special K, has a bad reputation as a club drug. However, it has long been used by doctors because of its medical benefits. It was originally used as an anesthetic because it’s a terrific sedative with fewer risks and side effects than other forms of anesthesia. It has also been used to treat chronic pain, immediate pain, and severe asthma. Only recently has the research indicated its rich potential for depression treatment.
4. Ketamine Side Effects
The reason that ketamine makes such a good club drug is because when taken in high doses it has side effects desired by the users. In such doses, you can experience hallucinations, delirium, and confusion about what’s real. However, ketamine infusion therapy isn’t given in doses that high. The doses are lower, so that you get benefits for depression, without those side effects.
Of course, as with any drug treatment, you may experience some side effects, especially when first adjusting to a new dose of ketamine. Common side effects from ketamine infusion therapy include:
Anxiety, sometimes with a racing heart
Distorted sight such as blurry vision or double vision
Dizziness, nausea, vomiting
People who experience these side effects can work with their doctors to adjust dosage accordingly.
5. Ketamine Infusion Therapy May be Covered by Insurance
There isn’t widespread approval or use of ketamine as a depression treatment quiet yet. However, steps are definitely being taken in that direction. In fact, some insurance companies will already cover ketamine infusion therapy. Typically, they require that the patient try 3 other forms of depression treatment first. People with treatment-resistant depression who don’t benefit from those methods, may then turn to ketamine.
Ketamine infusion therapy isn’t for everyone with depression. There are many types of depression and many treatment options. However, it can be a valuable source of relief for many people, a fact which is increasingly recognized by medical providers.
Dr. Jeffrey Ditzell is a Psychiatrist in New York City and specializes in issues involving anxiety depression and adult ADHD. Ketamine for Depression is one of the many treatments Dr. Ditzell offers to treat a variety of mental health issues.