Ketamine, a derivative of phencyclidine, is an anesthetic drug that was developed in 1962 and has been widely used in a variety of settings. Ketamine acts as an antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor and targets glutamate, which is an excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter.
Ketamine has been used to induce and maintain general anesthesia for more than 30 years and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic and has a remarkably safe track record in clinical settings. Ketamine is commonly used to treat Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), sometimes referred to as Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD).
Over the past two decades, researchers have consistently found that low doses of ketamine, administered intravenously (ketamine infusions), produce a rapid anti-depressant effect.
When ketamine is administered in a controlled medical setting by a properly trained and licensed clinician using established methods, it is very safe. Ketamine is the only anesthetic that does not suppress the body's cardiovascular and respiratory systems. When used recreationally, or outside of a controlled medical setting, ketamine use can have very serious adverse effects.
The duration of symptomatic relief patients experience following ketamine infusion therapy varies greatly. Patients who have received ketamine infusion therapy for depression have reported significant improvements in their mood and abilities to function anywhere from days to weeks. When patients do experience such relief, it may be the first time in decades that they have felt healthy and 'normal'.
Is this treatment covered by insurance?
1. A recently updated list of your medications as well as known allergies or reactions.
2. Documentation of diagnoses and past treatments is helpful.
3. An adult driver must accompany you in order to bring you home after each treatment.
4. Your list of remaining questions, to ensure they are addressed before starting therapy.
5. A music playlist you find comforting. Your device can be linked to a bluetooth speaker in the treatment room.
6. Headphones and/or eye mask, if desired.
What are the side effects of ketamine treatment?
Most recent research shows that some possible, short-term side effects may include headache, anxiety, dissociation, nausea, and dizziness.
How does ketamine relieve depression?
Scientists are still exploring the exact mechanism by which depression is relieved, but research suggests that by blocking the NMDA receptors, ketamine prompts the brain to increase the production of synaptic signaling proteins in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is the region of the brain thought to play a critical role in a person's ability to regulate his/her mood. Ketamine appears to promote the growth of new synapses in the prefrontal cortex, resulting in greater connectivity in the brain, while also switching certain connections on and off. This cascade of events is thought to be the reason for the rapid anti-depressant effect.
Can I return to work after my infusion?
We strongly suggest that you head straight home after your first infusion. After a few doses, you'll get an idea of how it affects you and if any modifications should be made. After your infusion, it's quite common to experience a sense of intoxication, dizziness or even nausea. You may also be feeling tired and worn out for the rest of the day - and that's completely normal.
Do I need a designated driver or can I drive myself?
No driving after EVERY infusion. We require all patients to sign a waiver acknowledging that they will not drive for at least 12 hours following their infusion. Ketamine is a controlled substance and for you safety physically and legally, we take this seriously.