Start the New Year with Ketamine IV Therapy

Have you ever heard of Ketamine IV therapy? If not, or if you have but never considered, this can be the year you find the right treatment for depression. Out of the nearly 9 million American adults with major depressive disorder, almost 3 million have treatment-resistant depression (TRD).

TRD refers to those who have tried various therapies, including antidepressants, therapy, alternative treatments, and combinations of these, to alleviate symptoms of depression, but nothing has worked successfully. Statistics show that those with TRD have much higher rates of suicidal thoughts and attempts. Therefore, finding a treatment that works is a top priority among researchers.

Below is a concise guide to ketamine therapy and how it can help you overcome mental health symptoms in the new year.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine was once used as anesthesia for soldiers injured during battles in the 1970s. Around 1975, ketamine had also become a street drug, being misused and abused by people wanting to experience hallucinations and altered states of mind. President Nixon banned the substance and classified it as a scheduled narcotic, making it illegal to possess or use. Doing so would lead to significant legal consequences if caught.

While it was a street drug, users reported ketamine eased their poor mental health symptoms. Unfortunately, ketamine could not be further researched for medicinal purposes until the late 1990s. Fast-forward to 2019, ketamine was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treatment-resistant depression, but only in the form of a nasal spray. The clinical name is Esketamine.

Nasal sprays do not work well for every person. Your doctor can administer an off-label version via an intravenous drip or muscle injection.

What is Ketamine IV Therapy?

Intravenous means to go into the vein. So, in terms of ketamine therapy, it means putting ketamine into your veins. To do this, doctors can use a syringe and inject the ketamine directly into your vein. Or they attach a needle to a line that runs to a bag containing a solution with the medicine inside, which then drips slowly into your veins.

The medicine, in this case, is ketamine.

Ketamine IV therapy is given only by a psychiatrist or doctor in a clinical setting. You do not receive a prescription for ketamine and will never be given a dose to take home. Your doctor and nurse will provide you with the smallest dose of ketamine, then supervise and monitor you during the hour of your session.

Benefits of Ketamine IV Therapy

The most important benefit found through research for ketamine IV therapy is that it reduces suicidal thoughts and attempts. In one study, 88% of the emergency department patients entering with suicidal thoughts no longer had them 1.5 hours after a dose of ketamine.

Another study found that participants had a 50% reduction in suicidal thoughts and depression and a 30% reduction in anxiety.

Studies like these open the discussion about using ketamine to treat many other physical and mental health disorders, including the following:

Some research shows a link between untreated depression and dementia, claiming that the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory, shrinks over time in those with depression. The same report states that ketamine improves the brain’s plasticity, or the ability to form new connections. When this happens, the hippocampus continues to grow and develop.

More on Ketamine and the Brain

Most antidepressants prescribed by doctors work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. Serotonin is one chemical, or neurotransmitter, that, when low, is linked to depression. The problem is that not every person has depression due to low serotonin levels, which is why antidepressants fail them.

Ketamine awakens many neural receptors in the brainprimarily glutamate, the most common neurotransmitter. The overactivation of glutamate for an extended period, like when exposed to stress and inflammation, leads to depression. Ketamine blocks some glutamate receptors from becoming excited and firing, preventing overactivation.

Side Effects of Ketamine IV Therapy

The dose you receive during Ketamine IV therapy is so low that it typically wears off soon after your session, which is only about an hour. Ketamine side effects, if any, will likely only last this long but, in some cases, may continue after treatment. Therefore you must have someone drive you to and from your ketamine IV therapy session.

Some reports claim that side effects, if they do occur, are mild and may include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Light-headedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Confusion
  • Out-of-body experience
  • Hallucinations

Additional side effects, although rare, must be considered and discussed before treatment. Examples include an allergic reaction to the drug, muscle stiffness or spasms, cardiovascular changes, respiratory changes, unusual thoughts, irrational behaviors, changes in emotions, or sleep disturbances.

Who Should Avoid Getting Ketamine IV Therapy?

Ketamine IV therapy is not for everyone, especially those with certain health conditions. It is crucial to inform your psychiatrist of all past and present health-related issues in the extensive assessment and evaluation they provide to see if you qualify for therapy.

If you have any of the following, you will not qualify for ketamine IV therapy:

How to Enhance Ketamine IV Therapy

Before you begin ketamine IV therapies, your psychiatrist will provide tips on how you can enhance your therapeutic experience. One way is by participating in psychotherapy during your ketamine infusion or ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT). This process involves working with a licensed mental health professional, usually a therapist, who introduces positive thoughts and suggestions while your mind is open and clear.

The same process that can take weeks and months in “regular therapy” can occur in one session of KAT. The positive affirmations offered during treatment can replace negative thoughts holding you back.

Other ways to enhance your ketamine IV therapy include using meditation or other forms of relaxation in the days before your session, listening to relaxing music, dressing comfortably, and avoiding stress whenever possible. Finally, surround yourself with positive mental influences to have the effective, lasting results you deserve.

Ketamine Therapy for Depression in Los Angeles

Looking for ketamine therapy for depression? Contact the Mental Health Center today in Los Angeles.