Mental Health

Can Ketamine Treatments Cure my Depression?

Kendra Bean
Kendra Bean23 Aug 2022
Reviewed and Fact Checked ✔️

Recent discoveries suggest Ketamine is effective in treating depression, but should only be administered by a health professional. Self-administration of ketamine can be deadly. Ketamine therapy involves small doses of the drug, either through an infusion or a nasal spray. Studies on ketamine have shown it to be both fast-acting and beneficial in treating depression, especially when other treatments have been exhausted and proven unsuccessful.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is an FDA-approved drug for anesthetic purposes. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including narcolepsy, sleep apnea, and migraines. It is also used for acute and chronic pain management.

In 2019, the FDA approved a derivative of ketamine, esketamine, for patients with treatment-resistant depression. Since then, researchers have been looking into the anti-depressive and anti-suicidal effects of ketamine.

A National Institute of Health (NIH) sponsored research paper lists some common uses for ketamine:

  • General Anesthesia
  • Severe anxiety disorders
  • Severe bipolar disorder
  • Drug addiction rehabilitation
  • Neuropathic pain
  • Cancer pain syndromes
  • Phantom limb pain
  • Severe depression
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Severe PTSD

Ketamine and Depression

Ketamine is used to treat treatment-resistant depression (TRD). One NIH publication defines TRD as an “inadequate response to at least one antidepressant trial of adequate doses and duration.” TRD means that the medication you were prescribed for treating your depression is not working for you. It is estimated that at least 30% of all major depressive disorders are treatment-resistant. 

Ketamine can be clinically administered for TRD in a safe and controlled way via nasal spray or intravenously (IV infusion). Ketamine therapy can include one or more in-clinic ketamine dosing sessions under clinician supervision and additional therapy techniques (e.g., CBT). If you have been prescribed ketamine therapy, you must have the treatment administered by a healthcare professional in a clinic.

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Kendra Bean

Kendra Bean is from Maui, Hawaiʻi. She is currently enrolled at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, specializing in Epidemiology. She is passionate about improving health literacy and access to care, specifically in rural areas.

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