Ketamine Treatment

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is an FDA-approved anesthetic and pain reliever used worldwide for decades. Research over the past two decades, led by some of the world’s finest medical institutions, has shown ketamine’s potential as a breakthrough treatment for mood disorders and mental health conditions, as well as chronic pain. Some doctors — such as Thomas Insel, former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health — are calling ketamine the biggest breakthrough in depression treatment in decades.

Is Ketamine Safe?

Ketamine, as a medication, is very safe. When administered at an appropriate dose by medical professionals like our staff here at KDI Health, it is effective with little to no side effects. Compared to SSRIs or other antidepressants, ketamine is also very effective at treating pain, depression, and other mood disorders. Studies indicate up to 75% of patients find relief with a series of ketamine infusions.

The History of Ketamine

American chemist Dr. Calvin L. Stevens first synthesized ketamine in 1962. A series of highly successful clinical trials ensued, and by 1970, the FDA had approved ketamine as an anesthetic. The drug found its first use sedating soldiers for battlefield surgery during the Vietnam War. Since then, ketamine has been used extensively for pediatric and adult treatment in surgery, emergency departments, ambulances, trauma medicine, and more. The World Health Organization lists ketamine as an essential medicine due to its therapeutic effects and wide margin of safety.

Over the last two decades, Yale University and the National Institutes of Health identified additional benefits of ketamine in treating mood disorders and chronic pain. It is currently thought that ketamine’s primary benefit stems from ketamine’s interaction with a neurotransmitter known as glutamate. Much of the scientific literature supports this idea, with findings indicating that antidepressants’ therapeutic effects work by a similar, although much less direct, mechanism.

Glutamate is an amino acid and neurotransmitter found throughout the central nervous system. It is highly active at the intersection of several metabolic systems. In short, glutamate is responsible for mediating processes in the brain and the speed with which neural events occur. This little molecule is strongly associated with learning, memory, and mood regulation and plays an enormous, though not entirely understood, role in the generation of new neural pathways.

A Picture of a Neuron

The neuron found in this image shows new dendritic formations, or new neural growth, within just 2 hours of receiving ketamine. Ketamine’s effect on the human brain – how it interacts with the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus regarding chronic pain, for instance – is open to debate. We know that ketamine has reduced some of the symptoms associated with mental disorders like anxiety and depression and has provided relief to those experiencing chronic pain, CRPS, and neuropathy.

A CT Scan of a Human Brain

After ketamine treatments, the depressed brain is almost identical to the non-depressed picture as new neural activity has replaced less active regions in the depressed example. The amygdala, the part of the brain that handles fear and emotion and is vital in addressing mood disorders, may undergo positive structural changes from ketamine infusion therapy.

Physician Answers to Your Ketamine Questions

Originally used as a tranquilizing agent, Ketamine has recently been found to be effective for the treatment of a number of psychiatric conditions, including, but not limited to therapy-resistant depression (TRD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and bipolar disorder. Its mechanism of action is unclear at this time, but it appears to somehow allow for the neurocircuitry of the brain to rewire itself by increasing brain plasticity.
You will have an IV placed in your hand or arm for the delivery of ketamine. During the course of the infusion, we will monitor your vital signs. The process is not painful in any way, and can even be relaxing for some. There are a few patients who experience dissociative symptoms during their infusion, but these are short lived. If you are ever uncomfortable there are medications we can give you to make your infusion more pleasant. Some possible side effects include blurred vision, nausea, dizziness, and a sense of floating.
No, there are no serious health or addiction risks with ketamine therapy. Ketamine has been safely used for over fifty years on patients in hospitals. Although ketamine has a history of being abused as a hallucinogen, the dose and rate of administration used for therapy is insufficient to experience those effects or become habit-forming.

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