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How Ketamine Targets and Treats Depression

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

Ketamine infusion therapy (KIT) is a well-researched, safe, and promising treatment option for people suffering with treatment-resistant depression. It involves the administration of low-dose ketamine through an intravenous (IV) infusion, typically placed in the arm or wrist. We recommend that KIT is used in addition to each patient’s usual course of treatment, whether through antidepressants, talk therapy, or holistic methods. KIT is meant to be a complement to existing steps being taken to combat depression.

Let’s explore the use of ketamine infusion therapy for depression, including its potential benefits, risks, and limitations. We’ll also provide information about our practice, which has been providing compassionate, cutting-edge mental healthcare to the DMV since 2016.

Understanding Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that has been used in medical settings for over 50 years. It’s incredibly well-documented and safe. It is typically administered in higher doses for surgical procedures as a sedative, but in recent years has been subjected to extensive research for its properties for treating depression, anxiety, and PTSD.

Ketamine works by blocking a specific type of receptor in the brain – the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor. This receptor is involved in regulating our mood, and studies show that ketamine can quickly alleviate symptoms of depression (sometimes even in as little as a few hours). This rapid onset of relief is a big draw for people who typically wait weeks to months for traditional antidepressants to start working.

Outlining the Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy

The main benefit of KIT is its ability to rapidly reduce the symptoms of depression. Studies have shown that up to 70% of patients experience a significant improvement in mood following a course of ketamine infusions. Plus, ketamine has been shown to have a low risk of addiction, even with repeated use. This is in contrast to traditional antidepressants, which can have significant side effects and carry a risk of dependence.

Since KIT at Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers is provided under physician-care, there are low risks for abuse or severe side effects, and the drug is provided in a completely safe, controlled environment.

What the Studies Say

One of the most well-known studies on ketamine infusion therapy was conducted by researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health in 2006. The study found that a single intravenous infusion of ketamine produced rapid antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression, with some experiencing significant improvement within hours of their infusion.

In the 17 years since, numerous other studies have confirmed these findings and further demonstrated the incredibly healing properties KIT can provide. For example, a 2012 study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology found that repeated ketamine infusions over a period of several weeks produced sustained antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Research into KIT is ongoing internationally, but the treatment is gaining popularity around the world. Overall, the research on ketamine infusion therapy for depression is still building, but existing studies suggest it can be an effective and safe treatment option for patients with depression, especially those who have not responded to other treatments.

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Reviewing the Risks and Limitations of KIT

Despite its potential benefits, ketamine infusion therapy, like any medical procedure, is not completely risk-free. At our offices, side effects are rare, and mild if experienced. They can range from dizziness and nausea to dissociation. Luckily, since the infusions are performed under the care of our experienced, licensed medical team, patients get fully prepped for their infusion journey and know what to expect, and when to ask for assistance during an infusion if they need it.

One limitation of KIT is its cost. Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers does not accept insurance coverage for this treatment, and the costs of infusions can be high. Our team works with patients to create a completely customized treatment and payment plan based on individualized needs.

Finally, while KIT can rapidly reduce symptoms of depression, the effects are typically not permanent. Most individuals will require booster infusions to sustain the benefits of treatment. Your physician will work with you to determine how those booster infusions should be structured and priced.

About Our Practice

Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers provides ketamine infusion therapy for people in the DMV suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain. Our practice has been in business since 2016, and aims to help people improve their mental health and quality of life through this innovative treatment option. We offer personalized treatment plans, and prioritize creating a comfortable and safe environment for our patients.

Our practice has the qualifications, training, and expertise to deliver safe, effective, and personalized care to each patient. Across our six locations, we have more than 50 five-star reviews, and are proud to offer this treatment option to our communities.

If you're ready to take the first step toward finding relief from treatment-resistant depression, we invite you to reach out to us. Our team of Board-Certified physicians offers free phone consultations to answer any questions you may have. There is hope - and we're here to help you find it.


The featured image used in this article is by Dale de Vera.

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