Is Ketamine Used to Treat Depression?

Ketamine is used off-label to treat depression.

This article will describe what ketamine is, its on-label uses, what off-label means, safety considerations, and why you should not self-prescribe or self-treat.

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is an antidepressant that works much faster than other antidepressants. Traditional antidepressants can take weeks or longer to start affecting depressive symptoms, but ketamine only takes hours to begin working.

Ketamine can be given as a nasal spray, a shot in the arm, intravenous (IV) therapy, or an oral lozenge. IV infusions are typically given twice a week for three weeks and then one infusion once a week until, eventually, most people have one infusion once or twice a month. You may be able to stop receiving ketamine infusions once you are symptom-free and begin treatment again when or if the depression comes back.

Ketamine is considered a dissociative drug that works similarly to opioids. Each IV infusion takes about 40 minutes to complete, and the dissociative effects will wear off about 15 to 20 minutes after the infusion is done. A doctor will always be available to you during the treatment and can help you if you feel confused or anxious or need anything.

During the infusion, the dissociative effects of the ketamine will make you sleepy and relaxed. You will not likely move or talk during treatment, but some patients may comment on the feelings they are experiencing, ambient sounds like the music on their headphones, or ask where they are.

It is important to note that ketamine is meant to be used along with oral antidepressants and therapy.

What are the on-label uses for ketamine?

“On-label” uses for a drug are the uses that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved that the drug can be used for. The FDA has approved ketamine for use as an anesthetic for procedures that do not require muscle relaxation. It is recommended for short procedures but can be used for longer ones if combined with other anesthetics.

What does “off-label” mean?

Off-label uses for a drug are the ways that a drug can be used that are not FDA-approved but beneficial or in the trial stages of FDA approval. Ketamine is used as an antidepressant and is an example of off-label use.

What safety considerations should I keep in mind?

Ketamine is popular as a street drug because of its dissociative effects. You can become dependent or addicted to ketamine or need higher and higher doses to achieve the same effect. It is also possible to overdose on ketamine. However, these issues become less likely if you take ketamine that a doctor has prescribed and take it in the proper dose.

Ketamine can temporarily increase or decrease your blood pressure and heart rate. It can also cause abnormal heart rhythms.

If you overdose or take in too much ketamine too fast, you could face respiratory depression.

You may feel agitated or confused as you wake up, and the anesthetic and dissociative effects of the ketamine start to wear off.

If you have high intracranial pressure, your doctor must monitor you closely, as ketamine can cause elevated intracranial pressure.

Ketamine can also cause liver dysfunction or injury.

Children who receive ketamine therapy may experience cognitive (thinking) deficits.

Ketamine therapy is not recommended if you have high blood pressure that could cause an aneurysm, an aortic tear, a heart attack, or uncontrolled high blood pressure.

You are not eligible for ketamine treatment if you have alcohol use disorder (combining alcohol and ketamine can be fatal), pregnant or breastfeeding, or have schizophrenia (ketamine can make psychosis worse).

Why should I not self-prescribe or self-treat with ketamine?

You mustn’t do self-prescribe or self-treat with ketamine. Using ketamine without a doctor’s recommendation and oversight makes it much more likely that you could misuse ketamine, become dependent or addicted to it, need more and more of it to feel the effects of the drug, or even overdose on it.

Ketamine has gained popularity as a party drug because it can cause hallucinations (distortions of sight and sound) and because of the way it makes users feel, so it is available on the black market. However, the only safe and legitimate way to get ketamine is from your doctor. You must use it for the intended purpose that it was prescribed for you (in this case, to reduce symptoms of depression) and only at the approved dosage. Misusing ketamine can lead to serious consequences, such as addiction and overdose.

Experience The Benefits Of Ketamine Therapy At Home With Concierge MD

If you are interested in the benefits of ketamine therapy, reach out to Concierge MD. We are a licensed, mobile healthcare practice of a number of services, including ketamine therapy.

We offer ketamine infusion therapy for conditions such as:

  • Treatment resistant depression
  • Chronic pain conditions
  • Anxiety
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Postpartum depression

Our health experts will evaluate your medical history and the concerns you are trying to address to determine if ketamine therapy is the right choice for you. Treatments are administered by a licensed medical professional in the comfort and privacy of your home. Our telehealth portal allows you to follow up after treatment to report progress and ask questions.

Concierge MD is proud to offer the benefits of ketamine therapy in the comfort and privacy of our clients’ homes. We also provide a number of other services, including direct primary care. Contact us today!


Experience Care with ConciergeMD

ConciergeMD offers coverage throughout the United States.