What is Ketamine?

N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist that has traditionally been used for the induction and maintenance of anesthesia. Ketamine had proven to be safe and effective, even as a sedative for children requiring immobilization to enable performance of a painful procedure. 

In the 1970s Ketamine was approved for safe use by the FDA for soldiers during the Vietnam War. It soon gained the name of “the buddy drug” on the battlefield. This was because of its quick effects and safety profile. Soldiers quickly became used to administering Ketamine for frequent medical emergencies.

Mercer SJ. ‘The Drug of War’–a historical review of the use of Ketamine in military conflicts.
J R Nav Med Serv. 2009;95(3):145-50. PMID: 20180434.

How Ketamine is Being Used?

Studies were conducted from 2000-2006, which ultimately showed Ketamine was a viable alternative treatment for depression. This led to the rise of doctors going off-label and using Ketamine for treatment resistant depression, pain management, and other psychiatric disorders.

Ketamine therapy involves the administration of a single infusion or a series of infusions. Whether a single dose or series, ketamine frequently reduces or eliminates signs of depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, etc. – with nearly all studies confirming a greater than 75% success rate. Whereas, conventional antidepressants must be taken daily in order to mask and/or reduce symptoms of depression – with a low rate of success on the first medication prescribed.

For the average patient, the acute phase of ketamine intravenous therapy calls for a series of six sessions followed by occasional booster infusions – if and as needed. This short-term treatment yields fast-acting response (often within hours) with long-lasting symptom relief (in some patients, permanent relief without further treatment).

What Our Clients Are Saying

Ketamine & Depression:
How it Works

New therapies like ketamine are changing how depression is understood, and may pave the way for future research that helps us understand the brain in all of its complexity.

Source: Yale Medicine