Ketamine a powerful drug used primarily by anesthesiologists to put people under for surgery, but it’s also now showing a lot of promise when used in low doses in certain cases to treat severe depression and PTSD
Dr. John Fleming, with the Southern Colorado TMS Center explains, “Ketamine is an anesthetic agent used to put people to sleep, but studies at the national institute of health established that a low dose of Ketamine, 1/20th the amount of what’s used to put people to sleep, can bring people out of depression in 4-6 hours and leave them out of depression for a few hours as well.
Further studies at Yale showed that with 6 treatments over 2 weeks time, most patients will have the the symptoms stay gone for 3-20 months, this is extraordinary.”
As extraordinary as the results are Ketamine isn’t a miracle cure all for all depression or mental illness. Dr. Fleming says many people will respond to the more common treatments for depression such as therapy or medication but not all, and that’s when Ketamine may be looked at as an option.
“Ketamine treatment is definitely not a first line treatment. The techniques that we use here (at the Southern Colorado TSM Center) are really focused primarily on the treatment resistant depression group, or the treatment resistant bipolar, OCD or PTSD group.”
Ketamine, is not yet approved by the FDA and is considered off-label for the treatment of mental health issues. It’s also not covered by insurance it also can have some mild side effects during the infusion that typically lasts about 20 minutes.
Dr. Fleming says, “It’s not what happens during the infusion, it’s what the infusion changes in your brain wiring. In fact I had one man who was deeply depressed and in every single Ketamine infusion he got more tearful. After 2 or 3 sessions he said, ‘Doc I probably ought to stop this because all this doing is making me sad.’ When I ask him, ‘wait a minute, how are you doing later that afternoon and the next day?’ and he said ‘I’m actually doing better.” That is what we need to pay attention to.”
If you have questions about Ketamine follow up with your provider, or the folks at the Southern Colorado TMS Center.