What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic which has been in clinical use for over 50 years. At higher doses, ketamine serves as a remarkably safe anesthetic. In fact, due to its safety profile and efficacy, ketamine is on the World Health Organization's list of essential medicines and was widely used by soldiers on the battlefield during the Vietnam war. At lower doses, ketamine has been found to be helpful for mental health conditions, including cases of depression which have otherwise been treatment-resistant. In addition to treating depression, ketamine is also being used to treat other mental health conditions such as anxiety, PTSD and OCD, as well as chronic pain.
How does it treat depression?
The exact mechanism is not entirely understood. However, it appears that ketamine's antidepressant quality may be largely attributed to NMDA receptor antagonism, and its effect on the neurotransmitter glutamate. Ketamine also has direct and indirect effects on other neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine and GABA. Additionally, ketamine is thought to increase levels of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), which helps to promote neuroplasticity of the brain, and studies suggest that it may also be neuroprotective in certain circumstances.
Furthermore, ketamine has other therapeutic properties. At lower doses, such as when given orally, ketamine can be used to assist with psychotherapy. At higher doses, such as when administered by IV or intramuscular injection, ketamine can produce a psychedelic-like experience. Often the ketamine journey can be very meaningful and healing for patients - facilitating transcendent and spiritual experiences, epiphanies, a more expansive life perspective, insights on one's behaviors or patterns, as well as emotional processing.
How quickly does ketamine work?
When compared to other treatments for depression, such as antidepressants, which can take weeks to months to work, ketamine is unique in that it's fast-acting. If a patient responds to ketamine, they will typically experience some degree of relief in depressive symptoms immediately following a single treatment. In addition to relieving depression, ketamine can also alleviate other mental health conditions such as anxiety, OCD and PTSD.
How is ketamine delivered?
Ketamine may be administered intranasally, by sublingual lozenges, intramuscular injections, or by IV. Our clinic currently offers ketamine by intramuscular route.