What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Ketamine infusion is an intravenous therapy for those suffering from mental health disorders who are considered treatment-resistant. While ketamine has been used in emergency rooms and hospitals as a pain-blocking anesthetic for decades, its ability to reverse depressive symptoms has been a more recent discovery.
Who Might Need Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Ketamine infusion therapy is an option for individuals suffering from the following mental health conditions who have not had successful responses to other treatment methods:
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder
- Postpartum Depression
- Social Anxiety Disorder
Your doctor will complete a full medical history to understand your symptoms, treatment history, and other conditions that may influence the effectiveness of therapy.
How Ketamine Infusion Therapy Works
Unlike traditional antidepressants, which alter the balance of chemicals like serotonin and dopamine in the brain, ketamine changes the way brain cells communicate with each other. It blocks a specific type of brain receptor known as NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate). NMDA is activated by glutamate, a neurotransmitter that in excessive quantities can overstimulate brain cells and lead to depressive side effects. Ketamine also stimulates the growth of new brain cells.
With ketamine infusion therapy, a patient will receive a subanesthetic (small enough to prevent psychological side effects) dose through an IV. The IV takes approximately 40-60 minutes to fully disperse and is administered once a week for one to four weeks, on average. Timing and the number of treatments may vary from patient to patient and will be determined by the attending physician. Many patients will require booster treatments over time to reinforce the ketamine’s effectiveness.
Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy
While antidepressants can take weeks or longer to become effective and dosages can be hard to determine, ketamine infusion therapy is designed to work within a few hours. For those struggling with debilitating depression or anxiety, a quick IV can be lifesaving. And for those who are treatment-resistant, it can make an enormous difference in quality of life.