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Ketamine is an anesthetic agent that is thought to act by blocking NMDA receptors in the brain which interact with a neurotransmitter called glutamate. It is believed that this mode of action which is different from traditional antidepressants is responsible for the rapid action and therapeutic effects with this agent.
Studies have shown an almost immediate decrease in depressive symptoms in about 70% of patients who received an initial IV infusion of Ketamine given over 40 minutes. These effects may typically last anywhere from a couple of days to up to a week. A series of 6 infusions given over a 2 to 3 week period may lead to lasting benefits from one month to several months in duration. “Booster” infusions given periodically may further extend these benefits.
Most studies have shown benefit from intravenous infusions of Ketamine as opposed to other modes of administration. At our clinic, infusions are usually given over a period of 40 minutes in a relaxed and comfortable setting under the guidance of a board-certified anesthesiologist to maximize safety during the treatment. Typical side effects may include feelings of “lightheadedness,” “floating,” or feeling “dissociated” as in a dream as well as mild perceptual distortions. Vital signs including heart rate and blood pressure will be monitored throughout the treatment under the guidance of a board-certified anesthesiologist. Once the infusion is complete, the main side effects typically resolve in approximately 15 to 30 minutes. Sometimes minimal side effects (i.e. fatigue) may linger for the next 3 to 4 hours. After these side effects resolve, there are typically no other side effects or long-term side effects from the Ketamine treatments.
Unfortunately, insurance companies do not typically cover these treatments since they are considered “investigational” for treatment of depression.
Although there is the potential for abuse with other forms of Ketamine, there are no reported cases of patients becoming addicted to Ketamine from receiving the low dosages that are used to treat mood disorders and pain disorders in our clinic.
There is evidence from recent studies that Ketamine can also be effective for management of bipolar depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), various addictions, and for management of some chronic pain syndromes (which usually require longer infusion durations). There is also evidence that Ketamine can be effective in lessening suicidal thoughts in high-risk patients.
Please call 619.980.2615 or send an email inquiry and arrangements can be made for an initial consultation after a brief telephone screening by Dr. Botkiss.