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How Safe Is Ketamine For Depression 

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Peck
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Reading Time: 4 minutes
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Ketamine is a fast-acting anesthetic drug. It has been medically used for inducing and maintaining anesthesia for the last 50 years all over the globe. As compared with other general anesthetics such as propofol and opiates, it is considered much safer due to not suppressing the heart rate or respiration process of the recipient.

It is also used as a recreational drug due to its dissociative effects.

Another great benefit of this drug is that when given in a very mild dose, it treats multiple mental health problems such as treatment-resistant depression, chronic anxiety disorder, PTSD, and OCD. Furthermore, it also relieves chronic inflammation in so many cases.

In this article, we will briefly discuss the benefits and potential risks of ketamine infusion for the treatment of depression.

Clinical Trials of Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine is approved by FDA to treat treatment-resistant depression. Numerous studies conducted to determine efficacy of IV ketamine therapy prove that ketamine has a very significant effect on patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression.

Usually, patients under observation are given a placebo or a small dose of ketamine, like 0.4mg/kg. The immediate symptoms of the drug could be slight drowsiness or nausea, but they subside very soon, and the patient clearly experiences relief from his depression symptoms before and after the infusion. If the person does not feel any improvement, that is because he has been given a placebo.

 Benefits of ketamine therapy:

This ketamine treatment method has significantly higher success rate than other mainstream methods of treating depression. Because:

  • No need to follow a strict regimen of oral medication for months or even years
  • No first-pass effect like oral medication due to direct IV infusion.
  • More bioavailability of the drug
  • Better results in a short time 

Potential Risks of Ketamine for Depression:

Ketamine is considered one of the safest treatment options for treatment-resistant depression patients. It is also beneficial for patients battling suicidal ideation (thoughts about suicide and self-harm).

But every medicine, no matter how beneficial it is, has its limitations. As for ketamine, the main side effects of this treatment for Anxiety and Depression are given below.

  • It could worsen the symptoms of dementia, especially in elderly patients. So, it should be avoided in patients with a memory disorders.
  • Pregnant or breastfeeding mothers should also avoid ketamine therapy.
  • People who are still young, such as in their teens and early twenties, should go for other methods to treat their depression, such as low dose anti-depressant, exercise, and CBT sessions. If they become dependent on ketamine at a such early age, it will become a habit that will cause more trouble in the future because it will be hard to give up. The reason is to avoid long-term side effects of the drug.
  • Patients with a medical history of reaction to the drug or previous experience with substance abuse should not be given this treatment because it can trigger their opioid receptors, and they could become highly addicted to it.
  • If the Patient is suffering from a mental condition such as hallucinations or schizophrenia, he should not be given ketamine treatment because the chances are that the dissociative properties of ketamine will only end up adding to the intensity of those symptoms.

Long-term side effects of ketamine for depression:

Studies are being conducted worldwide to determine the long-term physical and mental side effects of ketamine infusion treatment for TRD patients. Some of the expected long-term side effects are following

  • The patient will become drug dependent and find it difficult to feel at ease without it.
  • After some time, he will become tolerant to a mild dose of ketamine, which will lead to increasing the dose repeatedly.
  • If not stopped, the patient could become a ketamine addict. This is the most dangerous state because addiction takes the patient towards drug abuse.
  • The right way to get rid of this addiction is slowly tapering off the drug. If it is stopped suddenly, severe withdrawal effects or relapse of depression symptoms could happen.  

Guidelines for Safe Use of Ketamine for Depression

  • This drug should always be given in mild doses to the patients. The frequency of infusion should be established by checking all the patient’s symptoms and behavior. The dose should not exceed the patient’s need.
  • From being diagnosed with TRD to the prescription and then administration of the ketamine, every step should be in knowledge of the Heath care practitioner and the patient’s psychologist.
  • IV Ketamine should be administered by a professional and experienced nurse at a certified ketamine clinic.
  • Every step of the procedure and the patient’s progress should be monitored by a nurse and a ketamine medical expert.
  • We know that long-term use of ketamine could cause dependency and tolerance in patients for the drug. Therefore, this drug should not be administered in depression patients whenever he asks for it. If this gets out of hand, he could become addicted to ketamine, and severe symptoms of relapse could occur if a drug is a sudden withdrawal without tapering off.
  • Patient’s vitals should be checked before and during the infusion session. Ketamine increases blood pressure and heart rate. If the patient is hypertensive or a heart patient, he is unsuitable for this treatment.  

Bottom line:

At Nepenthe wellness center, we know that conventional treatment methods such as oral anti-depressants and psychological therapy sessions do not provide relief to the TRD patients.

Therefore, our mission is to provide our clients with the most advanced and clinically proven alternative treatment to help them get rid of their misery.

If you have been suggested to try ketamine treatment and are looking for a trustworthy ketamine therapy organization, you can contact us anytime. We also offer a free consultation for our clients if they have any queries before starting therapy. You can book your consultation with us now!