Author: Alex Thompson

What Is Ketamine Used for in Physical and Mental Health Care?

what is ketamine therapy

But after people with this particular problem receive ketamine, those nerve cell connections get restocked with new glutamate receptors. It’s as if ketamine helps make new catcher’s mitts for the glutamate, so that the nerve cells can respond to it again. There’s no research to suggest that more than 6 weeks in a row brings more benefits, though people do go back for boosters if symptoms return. Ketamine causes what doctors call a “dissociative experience” and what most anyone else would call a “trip.” That’s how it became a club drug, called K, Special K, Super K, and Vitamin K, among others.

  1. Moving forward, other drugs could join ketamine in the realm of legal psychedelic medicine, as the FDA released draft guidance in June 2023 for clinical researchers in the field.
  2. The FDA has approved ketamine for general anesthesia only, but the drug has some off-label uses.
  3. There’s no research to suggest that more than 6 weeks in a row brings more benefits, though people do go back for boosters if symptoms return.
  4. This is compared to traditional antidepressants, which only work as long as they are in your system.

Weeks, months, or years after their first series of six to eight doses, patients may return for a booster. There is no standard recommendation for when or if people need a booster. They discuss it with their doctor if symptoms of depression start to reappear.

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The spray has a “black box” warning about the risk of sedation and trouble with attention, judgment, and thinking, as well as risk for abuse or misuse of the drug and suicidal thoughts and behaviors. By the time he was 45 years old, by then a father of two small children and a struggling-at-the-time film and video producer in Portland, OR, Winograd had hit rock bottom.

There’s a thriving community that will support you along your journey to a happier and healthier life. The DEA says higher doses of recreational ketamine can cause serious reactions. It is classified as a Schedule III non-narcotic substance in the United States and is illegal without a prescription.

By supporting neuroplasticity, ketamine may help change negative thought patterns that contribute to depression. The National Institutes of Health is increasingly devoting resources and attention to psychedelic medicine. Check back for information on their monthly virtual meetings, which feature guest speakers and reviews of new studies in psychedelic medicine. If you have commercial insurance coverage, you may only need to pay $10 for Spravato through a savings program, according to the company. Monitoring sessions after the medication are required; after a rebate, this may cost $0.

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With this in mind, they urge doctors to prescribe standard antidepressants before trying ketamine for depression. That said, research on the benefits of ketamine for depression remains relatively new. Experts emphasize the need to continue exploring its long-term safety and effectiveness. The cost of other types of ketamine therapy can vary, depending on where you live, what form and dose you take, and other factors. Future research may help determine whether repeated ketamine treatments have more of an effect than a single dose.

what is ketamine therapy

Shortly after, patients will start to feel the dissociative effects. For the next 45 minutes or so, with the therapist monitoring, patients explore whatever arises. It is important to distinguish between the valid medical uses and the nonmedical uses of the drug. Although people with certain heart conditions should not take ketamine, it is generally safe when a trained professional administers it in clinical settings. A 2016 study cautions that the inappropriate use of ketamine is a worldwide health problem due to its hallucinogenic properties.

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Research is, of course, still ongoing for KAP and other psychedelic psychotherapies. While this doesn’t mean KAP will be a guaranteed fix, it opens a much-needed door for people struggling to progress with more traditional forms of therapy. As with any practice that involves bringing up painful feelings and experiences, things can feel a lot worse before they start to feel better.

A lot of new research is currently being done on the various effects of ketamine. This includes benefits for mental health conditions such as treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, and suicidal ideation. You can only receive esketamine nasal spray, IV therapy, and IM injections at a clinic or hospital. This allows healthcare professionals to monitor your response and any side effects you experience. Certain continuing education training programs are designed specifically for healthcare providers who administer ketamine-assisted therapy to treat patients in a clinical setting. Emerging research suggests that ketamine can be used to treat alcohol, cocaine, or opioid use disorder, per a systematic review published in Frontiers in Psychiatry in 2018.

You will have to sign up for this benefit, and you can learn more at the link above. If you have any of the health concerns listed above or are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should avoid ketamine therapy. Nearly one in three adults will have an anxiety disorder in their lives, according to the American Psychiatric Association.

In 2020, esketamine was also FDA approved for use to treat depressive symptoms in adults with MDD with acute suicidal ideation. In short, to date, only the esketamine form of ketamine is FDA approved for mental health conditions. IV-infused ketamine is an FDA-approved anesthetic for surgical and medical procedures. In recent years, ketamine has increasingly been used as an antidepressant to treat TRD — considered off-label use.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), recreational forms of ketamine are commonly known as Special K, KitKat, Vitamin K, and other slang terms. In many cases, the medication will be in the form of a lozenge that dissolves under the tongue and takes about 10 minutes to kick in. Other methods include a nasal spray or a series of injections, depending on the patient, the therapist, and the treatment setting.

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In addition, ketamine therapy may also help turn off a stressed-out state that the brain can get stuck in. The scientific term for this stressed-out state, Robison says, citing animal research, is lateral habenula burst activity. Ketamine was shown to suppress this activity in depressed rats and mice, thereby turning on reward centers linked to mood. “Ketamine [may] hit a reset button in the brain and help people feel quite a bit better rather quickly — even though a single dose doesn’t last forever,” he adds. More research is needed to better elucidate the mechanisms of how ketamine may work in humans. Home use of ketamine has exploded in consumer popularity, even though these forms are still not FDA approved, according to an editorial in Missouri Medicine in 2023.

Keep in mind that ketamine has serious side effects which can be dangerous. Using ketamine without a prescription is illegal, and street ketamine may be mixed with other substances that can increase your risk of a serious reaction. If you or a loved one is living with an addiction to ketamine, there’s nothing to be ashamed of.