What is Ketamine?

Ketamine, which was initially used as an anesthetic, is now used in treating depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ketamine therapy is administered as an intravenous infusion or intramuscular injection. 

Regardless of whether you have the IV or the injection, ketamine therapy works by stimulating a different part of your brain. You’ll relax and receive your therapy in a comfortable, private room. After an hour, a friend or family member can drive you home, as you still might feel sleepy. Side effects are temporary, and most people wake up the following morning feeling refreshed — and with a noticeable improvement in mood.

Are you eligible for ketamine therapy?

Maybe you have treatment-resistant depression, and you’re wondering if ketamine therapy is the answer you’ve been looking for. You may be eligible for this therapy if:

  • You’ve already tried different medication combinations or dosages without any relief in your symptoms. 
  • You’ve tried other therapies.
  • You haven’t responded fully to a group or individual CBT or therapy.
  • You don’t have any of the contraindications (listed in the next section).

IV ketamine therapy isn’t used as a first-line defense against depression, but for those who try it, it may bring you the relief you deserve.

When to consider other treatments instead

According to the American Psychiatric Nurses Association, individuals may not be eligible for ketamine therapy if they:

  • Are pregnant. 
  • Have uncontrolled hypertension. 
  • Have acute cardiovascular disease.
  • Had a previous negative response to ketamine therapy.
  • Have a history of psychosis, substance abuse, or increased intracranial pressure.


5 Benefits of Ketamine Therapy

1. Ketamine provides rapid relief

Ketamine therapy provides rapid relief from depressive symptoms. Unlike traditional antidepressants that can take weeks or even months to start working, ketamine often begins to alleviate symptoms within hours or days. According to one study, some people even reported improvement within one hour after the first dose!

This swift response can be a game-changer, especially if you’ve been facing severe depression or suicidal thoughts. Studies show that the remission rate with ketamine is about 30% while the clinical remission rate of antidepressants is reported as low as 11% 一 a stat that highlights the effectiveness of ketamine therapy.

2. Ketamine therapy boosts your mood

Ketamine doesn't just alleviate the symptoms of depression, it also enhances your mood and overall sense of well-being. Many patients report feeling a profound sense of calm, clarity, and optimism after ketamine treatments. These positive effects can be life-changing and can help you regain your motivation and joy in daily activities.

3. Ketamine therapy helps reduce suicidal thoughts

For individuals struggling with suicidal thoughts, ketamine therapy offers a lifeline. Research has shown that ketamine can rapidly reduce suicidal ideation, providing immediate relief to those in crisis. If you or someone you know is in a critical situation, ketamine therapy could be a crucial intervention.

4. Ketamine works even if other treatments have failed

Over the course of a 12-year period, an estimated 8.9 million Americans struggle with major depressive disorder, and about 2.8 million are listed as having treatment-resistant depression. For those 2.8 million Americans, finding the treatment that works can seem like a lost cause. 

Thankfully, ketamine therapy offers hope when other options have failed because it targets a different part of your brain than traditional medications. Its mechanism of action (how it works) is different from traditional depression medications. 

Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist, which means it blocks the activity of NMDA receptors in your brain. This action leads to increased release of glutamate. The surge in glutamate levels stimulates the growth of new synaptic connections, especially in parts of your brain associated with mood regulation.

5. Ketamine therapy is easy and straightforward 

Ketamine therapy doesn't just provide short-term relief. Many patients experience long-lasting results, and a series of treatments can extend these effects even further and allow you to enjoy an improved quality of life. Ketamine treatment also complements therapy and lifestyle modifications to help you manage your depression.

Not only does ketamine work fast, but it’s also a relatively straightforward process. If ketamine therapy is right for you, simply sit back and relax while the medication is administered via an IV, IM injection, (or through a nasal spray). You may feel groggy, and that’s perfectly normal. You’ll need a friend or family member to drive you home, and in the morning you’ll wake up feeling much more refreshed.