In addition to the resources below, please see the New York Times article, The Ketamine Cure, by David Dodge. Published Nov. 4, 2021. Updated Nov. 5, 2021:
Chris Gathman, 40, has lived with chronic depression, a condition that runs in his family, for most of his life. He’s used a combination of antidepressants and cognitive behavioral therapy to treat his symptoms, with limited success. In 2018, he sunk into an even deeper depression that began impacting his ability to socialize and complete daily tasks.
“I knew I needed to do something,” said Mr. Gathman, who lives in Miami. So when his primary care physician suggested ketamine — an anesthetic that has improved symptoms of depression in early studies — he reached out to a clinic nearby.
“I woke up the next day and felt completely normal,” he said about his first IV infusion, administered at Ketamine Health Centers. “I didn’t feel depressed at all.” Mr. Gathman then persuaded his parents to seek out the therapy at the same clinic for their depression, and they both reported immediate relief as well.
Thanks to these success stories, hundreds of new ketamine providers have popped up across the country. Typically patients take ketamine through an IV, nasal spray or tablet once or twice a week for six to eight weeks (though some may need to take it longer). Sessions last between one and two hours and can cause feelings of dissociation, or feeling disconnected from reality, and euphoria.
In this post, I link to and excerpt from A Consensus Statement on the Use of Ketamine in the Treatment of Mood Disorders [PubMed Abstract] [Full-Text PDF]. JAMA Psychiatry. 2017 Apr 1;74(4):399-405.
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What follows is from the Consensus Statement above.
IMPORTANCE Several studies now provide evidence of ketamine hydrochloride’s ability to produce rapid and robust antidepressant effects in patients with mood and anxiety disorders that were previously resistant to treatment. Despite the relatively small sample sizes, lack of longer-term data on efficacy, and limited data on safety provided by these studies, they have led to increased use of ketamine as an off-label treatment for mood and other psychiatric disorders.
OBSERVATIONS This review and consensus statement provides a general overview of the data on the use of ketamine for the treatment of mood disorders and highlights the limitations of
the existing knowledge. While ketamine may be beneficial to some patients with mood disorders, it is important to consider the limitations of the available data and the potential risk
associated with the drug when considering the treatment option.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE The suggestions provided are intended to facilitate clinical decision making and encourage an evidence-based approach to using ketamine in the
treatment of psychiatric disorders considering the limited information that is currently available. This article provides information on potentially important issues related to the
off-label treatment approach that should be considered to help ensure patient safety.
JAMA Psychiatry. 2017;74(4):399-405. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2017.0080
Published online March 1, 2017.