First developed in 1962, ketamine was used as a safer anesthetic and alternative to PCP (phencyclidine) during the Vietnam War. The major benefit to this medication, for soldiers, was that they could administer it to each other in the field. In the 1980s and 1990s, however, the abuse of this hallucinogenic drug spread; it became one of the most popular party drugs of the era. In response to this, in 1999, the federal government officially made ketamine a Schedule III controlled substance and enforced more strict usage rules. Today, it continues to be used in the medical field as a powerful sedative and anesthetic. In addition, ketamine has proven itself a tremendous treatment for chronic pain conditions, depression and other mental health disorders. However, as mentioned, it is a highly regulated medication due to its reputation as a “club drug.” This has presented some barriers in making ketamine infusions accessible to those who could benefit from it.
So, what is the true potential of ketamine? In the past decade, ketamine has really stood out for its ability to rapidly relieve treatment-resistant depression, suicidal depression, and other debilitating mental health conditions.
But how does ketamine work?
Traditional antidepressants fall under the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) category, which act to block the re-uptake of the neurotransmitter, serotonin, allowing a build-up of this mood-boosting hormone to form in our brains. SSRIs have been the standard first-line treatment for depression for decades. Ketamine, however, acts on glutamate, which is associated with memory, as well as, our brain’s capability to adapt and change on a neural level. Ketamine blocks a variety of these glutamate receptors—but not all of them. What ketamine does is allow the brain to reform healthy neural connections while preserving the older ones. This, in turn, results in an improved mood.
The biggest difference between SSRI antidepressants and ketamine, however, is the speed in which depressive symptoms are alleviated. SSRIs can take months to begin working, where ketamine works rapidly—as quickly as within 1-2 hours of an infusion.
Ketamine is administered as a series of infusions at a clinic, under medical supervision. Reprieve Ketamine has seen successful and long-lasting results in up to 70% of our patients. While every individual patient has a different response to ketamine, the consensus is that ketamine works quickly and highly effective. Not only is ketamine widely praised for its ability to quickly relieve depressive symptoms and help save the lives of suicidal individuals, but it has piqued scientist’s curiosity. Ketamine inspired the development of new drugs, like esketamine (Spravato)—which received FDA approval in 2019—and Rapastinel, which is currently in phase III of clinical trials.
Esketamine, which is an isomer of ketamine, is a nasal spray developed by Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc. Although this medication works similarly to ketamine infusions, it can be difficult for patients to qualify for these treatments. Traditional ketamine infusions are a more viable, affordable and approachable option.
Please contact Reprieve Ketamine today for a free consultation. Our professional staff is here to answer any questions you may have, and direct you towards recovery from your symptoms.