Everyone keeps talking about ketamine treatment for depression. Here are five facts everyone should know before beginning this treatment method.
Depression is extremely common in America, with over 8% of American adults suffering from it at one time. While ketamine offers relief to most patients with depression, it isn’t the first-line treatment. In fact, ketamine is typically reserved for the worst cases or those with treatment-resistant depression.
So if you have a diagnosis for depression, expect to try more traditional treatments such as antidepressants and therapy first. Only about one-third of people with depression don’t get relief from traditional means. If you fall into that minority then your doctor may look into alternative depression treatments such as ketamine infusion therapy.
For those with treatment-resistant depression, getting any relief can feel like a miracle, but it’s important for people to understand that ketamine therapy isn’t an easy fix. While ketamine can provide relief in as little as a few hours, and lasts for weeks, there’s nothing simple about this treatment method.
For one, ketamine isn’t currently available in pill form. While some companies are working on a nasal spray that’s pending FDA approval, that reacts similarly to ketamine, currently most ketamine therapy happens through IV infusions. An infusion session can take 40 minutes and requires the patient to spend around 20 extra minutes after the disorienting effects wear off. Even after waiting, patients still can’t drive themselves home. In addition, ketamine infusions aren’t a solo treatment; they require other medications and therapy still.
So while ketamine may provide relief for those needing an alternative treatment for their depression, it’s still a complicated medical procedure.
Like other forms of depression treatment, ketamine might be a great option for some patients but not for others. Not everyone’s depression is the same so it stands that not everyone’s treatment should be the same.
Other alternative depression treatments include electroconvulsive therapy, transcranial magnetic stimulation, and other forms of antidepressants. Talk therapy and even behavioral therapy are also good suggestions for patients with depression.
The bad news is that because ketamine is not an FDA approved treatment for depression it isn’t covered by most insurance companies. While ketamine therapy isn’t FDA approved, it still legal and safe for healthcare professionals to use ketamine to treat depression. It’s very common for doctors to go “off label” and prescribe a drug for a condition that it’s not approved for.
However, the bad news is that because it’s not coverable by insurance, patients must pay out of pocket. While ketamine itself isn’t expensive, the therapy sessions are. The equipment and medical professionals needed to monitor drive up the cost. You can contact us to discuss costs and payment methods if you have an interest in ketamine infusion therapy.
Doctors only recently began testing and monitoring ketamine in the treatment of depression. This means that long-term results are unknown. Research so far doesn’t suggest that ketamine infusion therapy doesn’t cause addiction or have any long-term results but the truth is we don’t know.
Some patients recieve ketamine infusions for years with relief, while others say the treatment’s effects fade over time. The FDA has fast-tracked two ketamine-based drugs though, and hopefully, more trials and research will happen soon.
Since 2003, the Delray Center for Healing has provided exceptional psychiatric and therapeutic care for mental health, eating, and substance use disorders. To learn more about our philosophy and treatment approach, download our free e-book, “Psychiatry Redefined,” written by our founder and medical director, Raul J. Rodriguez, MD.