What is Ketamine?
In the last two decades, ketamine has been increasingly clinically applied as an off-label treatment for chronic, treatment-resistant mental health conditions, such as depression, alcoholism, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder, OCD, and other psychiatric diagnoses. It is one of the most widely used medications in modern medicine. Ketamine is most commonly used as an anesthetic medication in emergency and surgical settings, due to its excellent safety profile, particularly around breathing/airway management. As ketamine has been more widely studied in the mental health field, there have been numerous studies supporting its use for the conditions listed above.
How does Ketamine Work?
Ketamine can be administered in a variety of ways, though intravenous infusion (IV) has the most compelling data for efficacy and safety. Ketamine can create an altered state of consciousness and it has biological actions in the brain which help produce its antidepressant effects. Research has shown that ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist which modulates the glutamate neurotransmitter system, which is understood to be important in mood and other disorders. This is a different pathway than that of other psychiatric drugs, such as the SSRI's, SNRI's, etc. Ketamine aslo increases a brain growth factor called BDNF. Increases in BDNF is associated with improvements in mood and cognition.
Our Treatment Process
Ketamine treatment is available to adult patients who are interested in alternative treatment for their mental health needs. Our practice takes an individual, medically-based approach to these treatments. Our clinical coordinator will work to coordinate with your psychiatrist or provide you a consultation with one of our physician psychiatrists prior to scheduling infusions. We believe that ketamine should be administered by a qualified physician (MD) and nurse, who will be present with you and monitoring you medically throughout the entire infusion. While ketamine is generally considered to be a very safe medication, it is still an anesthetic and we manage our patients at a high level of safety and medical monitoring. You will be scheduled for 6 infusions, usually two per week. We will monitor your progress between sessions and continue to monitor your progress after completing your treatments. Many patients who have a more chronic history of depression should expect maintenance infusions on a less frequent schedule. This will be determined by the patient's needs and the treatment team recommendations.