Ketamine Infusion Therapy

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.

An Expert Weighs In

"For decades, patients with mood disorders, anxiety, or depression have been told they have a 'chemical imbalance' in their brain. We now know that there is more to reversing depression than simply using antidepressant medications that 'trick' your brain into thinking that the 'imbalance' has been corrected. Ketamine stimulates the creation of new brain cells (neurgenesis) and new neuronal connections (synaptogenesis). This leads to an increase in the levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a growth factor that is thought to be responsible for the rapid reversal of depression, including suicidal thoughts."
Dr. Kerry D. Friesen
Medical Director, The Friesen Center

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