What Is IV Ketamine Therapy?
Ketamine infusion therapy is an innovative method involving using small doses of the anesthetic ketamine as an antidepressant.
In ketamine therapy, the drug is delivered directly into the bloodstream through an IV. This allows the drug to have maximum effect.
Ketamine is thought to relieve symptoms of depression by binding with glutamate receptors in the brain. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that is dysfunctional in patients with depression.
By activating the neurotransmitter receptors and pathways, ketamine has been found in animal studies to promote the regrowth of neurons damaged by prolonged exposure to stress, potentially leading to the remission of depression in the long term.
Although ketamine as an anesthetic holds U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval, it is considered an off-label treatment when used for depression and other mental health disorders. This means ketamine is not yet explicitly FDA-approved for the treatment of depression.
Psychiatrists and physicians have permission to prescribe off-label medications at their discretion based on available evidence and the potential benefits to the patient.
The American Psychiatric Association released a consensus statement on IV ketamine to treat major depressive disorder.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine was developed in 1962 by Parke-Davis. It has been used safely as an effective anesthetic since the 70s for various medical purposes for children and adults.
It works primarily as an NMDA receptor antagonist, commonly described as a ‘dissociative’ anesthetic. Recently, Ketamine IV Therapy has been touted as the most significant breakthrough in treating treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, and other mood disorders.
Unlike traditional psychotropic medications, which can take weeks to months to take effect, ketamine infusion works within hours of an infusion. This can be especially useful for severely depressed individuals with suicidal thoughts who suffer from major depressive disorder and other mental illnesses. The immediate relief could be lifesaving.
Benefits of IV Ketamine Therapy
The primary benefit of IV Ketamine Therapy is its rapid onset of action compared to traditional antidepressant medications, which can take weeks or even months to take effect. This fast-acting treatment can be life-changing for patients suffering from severe, treatment-resistant depression.
Rapid Relief of Depression Symptoms
IV Ketamine has been shown to provide rapid relief of depression symptoms, with some patients reporting significant improvement within hours of treatment. This is particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing suicidal thoughts, as the swift alleviation of distressing symptoms can be lifesaving.
For patients who have not responded to two or more antidepressant medications, IV Ketamine Therapy offers a viable alternative. In many cases, patients who have struggled to find relief through traditional treatments have found success with IV Ketamine.
Anxiety and Depression
In addition to its effectiveness in treating depression, IV Ketamine Therapy has also shown promise in alleviating anxiety symptoms, particularly when combined with depression. This dual-action treatment can provide rapid relief for individuals struggling with both conditions.
Health Conditions IV Ketamine Therapy Can Help
While IV Ketamine Therapy is primarily known for its success in treating severe depression, it has also been used to address various other health conditions, such as:
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
IV Ketamine has shown promise in treating PTSD, a debilitating mental health disorder characterized by severe anxiety, flashbacks, and nightmares stemming from a traumatic event. Patients with PTSD who have undergone IV Ketamine Therapy have reported significantly reduced symptoms.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
Preliminary research suggests that IV Ketamine may effectively alleviate symptoms of OCD, a chronic mental health disorder characterized by uncontrollable, recurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions). Further research is needed to confirm these findings, but the initial results are encouraging.
Ketamine's analgesic properties make it useful in treating chronic pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). When administered via IV infusion, ketamine can provide rapid and long-lasting relief from persistent pain.
Although more research is needed, initial studies indicate that IV Ketamine Therapy may be effective in treating bipolar disorder, a mental health condition characterized by extreme mood swings. In particular, ketamine may help relieve depressive symptoms associated with bipolar disorder.
IV Ketamine Therapy FAQs
How does IV Ketamine Therapy work?
Although the exact mechanism of action is not fully understood, researchers believe that IV Ketamine Therapy works by repairing damage to the brain caused by long-term stress hormones.
Specifically, ketamine targets NMDA receptors in the brain, increasing the amount of glutamate (a neurotransmitter) in the space between neurons.
This process, known as synaptogenesis, helps create new neural pathways, improving mood, cognition, and thought patterns.
What are the side effects of IV Ketamine Therapy?
As with any medication, there are potential side effects associated with IV Ketamine Therapy. Common side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, nausea, and temporary increases in blood pressure.
More severe side effects, such as hallucinations and dissociation, are rare and typically only occur during the initial treatment session.
Is IV Ketamine Therapy addictive?
When administered in controlled medical settings, IV Ketamine Therapy is generally considered non-addictive. However, it is essential to note that ketamine does have addictive properties similar to opioids when used recreationally or in high doses. Patients with a history of substance abuse should discuss this risk with their healthcare provider before beginning IV Ketamine Therapy.