Finally, the scientific community is beginning to put as much attention and as many resources toward treating mental illness as physical illness. And it’s opening up new doors. As mental health care transforms, researchers are discovering new treatments.
That includes a potentially surprising treatment for depression: ketamine. Yes, it’s the same ketamine you’ve heard about in other (probably more party-related) contexts. But ketamine has been safely and effectively used as an anesthetic for decades, and new research shows its potential for addressing treatment-resistant depression.
In fact, the research is so convincing that we now offer intravenous (IV) ketamine infusions at our SmartClinic Urgent Care locations in West Covina and Santa Clarita, California. If you live with treatment-resistant depression, this IV treatment could be a game-changer.
The science on ketamine for depression
Ketamine holds so much promise as a depression treatment because it doesn’t just work well. It also works fast.
It works with a much lower dose than you’d receive if your doctor was using it as an anesthetic. Even in a small dose, researchers think it works by interacting with the receptors in your brain. It blocks certain receptors while activating others, helping your neurons communicate in new ways.
Ultimately, this affects your brain chemistry in a way that impacts your thought patterns and mood. Ketamine could help you forge new neural pathways, breaking the cycle of depression and replacing it with more positive thinking.
While ketamine is just now entering the public eye, scientists have been researching it as a treatment for depression for more than two decades. In studies at Yale in which ketamine was administered intravenously, the majority of participants noticed a significant reduction in their depressive symptoms in only 24 hours.
Even more notably, these were study participants who hadn’t seen any improvement on antidepressants. If you live with depression and medication hasn’t helped, ketamine could benefit you.
What to expect with ketamine IV infusions
The dose of ketamine we use for your IV infusion is well below what medical practitioners use for anesthetic purposes. You stay awake during your session, although you’ll likely feel very relaxed and drowsy during treatment.
We monitor you closely during treatment and have you stay with us until the immediate effects wear off, which usually takes about 20 minutes. For most appointments, you’re at our office for about an hour.
We usually recommend you get six infusions spaced 2-3 weeks apart. You should feel near-immediate relief from your symptoms.
After the initial six infusions, we transition to a maintenance phase in which you return as needed to keep your symptoms at bay. For most people, that means visiting us every 2-6 weeks.
If you’re living with treatment-resistant depression, talk with our team to see if ketamine could be right for you. To schedule an appointment, call us at the SmartClinic Urgent Care location that’s most convenient for you. We also offer telemedicine consultations.