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Ketamine for Depression: What is the right dose for me?

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Peck
Reading Time: 5 minutes
Role of Ketamine in Treatment of depression

Here at Nepenthe Wellness Center, ketamine infusion therapy is provided as a fully customized treatment that’s carefully adjusted and monitored to meet your specific needs. Contact us to know more about this revolutionary treatment.

Living with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) can be very difficult, not only for the person who is suffering it but also for the people around him.

Such people and their families are always in search of methods and medications that could help them get rid of this mental disease. But anti-depressants and scheduled therapy every week are not a permanent solution, and it also does not work for everyone.

You may say it is exaggerated, but TRD is a pervasive mental problem nowadays. Every 1 of 3 people is suffering from this severe mental condition cannot find relief with standard treatment methods.

In their long-due efforts to get to know everything about TRD and find new ways of treatment for depression patients, researchers came to know about a miraculous drug, which was a ground-breaking discovery. This drug is known as Ketamine.

Ketamine is an FDA-approved drug that has been used as an anesthetic worldwide for over fifty years and research proves that treating the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression is highly effective.

What is Ketamine? And how does Ketamine treat depression?

Ketamine is basically a short-term acting anesthetic drug, and it has been used in powdered, liquid, and injection forms for sedative purposes in the US from 1960 to date during major surgeries and even post-operative treatments for pain management.

In Vietnam War, it was also given to injured soldiers to sedate them and treat their injuries. It was put on the list of controlled substances in 1999 in the United States.

It is also widely used as a recreational drug due to its substantial dissociative effect, and its street names include vitamin K, KitKat, and special K.

A medical review about its effectiveness for depression

Ketamine has an instant effect in the treatment of clinical depression. According to the studies, the people who were given Ketamine for depression treatment showed a significant improvement in their depression symptoms after a one-month trial of the drug.

As you start the ketamine treatment, you may experience its dissociative effects after the first dose. But it is something very normal that you experience during the treatment. This drug affects the glutamate receptors in the brain.

Every brain is in a different state while starting Ketamine, so it tends to respond in a different way as well. For example, sometimes, a brain tends to lose a few synaptic connections  (nerve connections) in response to the first dose of Ketamine.

But according to medical studies and research, those detached synaptic connections are restored and start to expand after 24 hours of dose. The more these synaptic connections grow, the better anti-depressant results will be shown by the patient.  

What should be the frequency of getting ketamine infusion?

Ketamine therapy is a little different from other conventional methods of treatment and anti-depressants used to treat TRD. It does not have to accumulate in your system over time to be effective, but still, it is also not a one-time treatment.

It is a controlled, and critically monitored method of treatment that has to be continued till the brain cells of the patient get optimal and long-lasting symptom relief.

For patients with severe depression, this treatment usually starts with a series of six drips which are to be completed in two to three weeks, depending on their symptoms. This means you have to go get a drip either twice or thrice a week.

The response of every patient is also different depending on the severity of the mental condition. Some people with mild symptoms feel a little better just after getting the first drip, while others have to go through at least three to four drips before experiencing change.

When you complete your first session, you should feel a total symptom reversal. What matters now is that you long you stay like that.

Usually, patients enjoy total symptom remission for almost three to 4 months, and after that, the depression symptoms slowly start to kick in. for times like these, “Ketamine booster drip” is there to save the day.

Depending on the severity of symptoms, this booster drip consisting of two sessions is given one after another day or after two days.

This could reverse the depression symptoms for a maximum of six months.

A monthly injection of ketamine:

Sometimes a patient goes through an episode of acute depression attack. In this condition, an intramuscular ketamine injection is given to that patient.

This injection is more effective in treating that episode of acute depression as compared with IV infusion. Psychiatrists often keep this injection in their emergency kits. It is also a promising tool to be used in patients who can not go through electro convulsive therapy due to its severe cognitive side effects.

What is the good and safe dosage of Ketamine?

Typically, Ketamine is administered at the dose of 0.5mg/kg, but there are also some people who are more sensitive to the drug, so 0.1mg/kg works for them.

There are some studies in which different doses of Ketamine were administered to other groups of people. Then the results were taken after a few days, and the effect of the drug was greater in patients who were administered with 0.5mg/kg.

Advantages of ketamine treatment:

As we all are aware of the situation, depression is the biggest reason for suicides and disability in the world. Only a person suffering from this mental condition can understand the gravity of this matter.

Only two out of three people with TRD are able to get relief from other standard methods of treatment, but the remaining one remains helpless. For that person, Ketamine therapy is the best option because:

  • This method of treatment works very fast. You can also say that it works instantly within hours to make that person feel better. Because it affects the main neurotransmitter receptor, which is glutamate. New synapses are generated, which strengthen the neural connections in the brain that are impaired due to depression. Thus, the brain circuit function is stimulated, and symptoms of depression are washed away quickly.
  • The patients who get themselves treated with ketamine infusion show the most prolonged symptom remission as compared with those who get treated with anti-depressants.


Despite being treated with the highest success rates in treating TRD patients, it still has some drawbacks. It can still cause potential addictive problems in patients.

It can also cause dizziness and floating sensations in the person who receives it.

Therefore, you must be careful about the following things when you decide to go for it.

  • It must be administered and monitored by an experienced medical expert.
  • A thorough clinical evaluation is required before starting the procedure.
  • It should be avoided for people with a history of substance abuse and addictive habits.

If you are thinking about starting this ketamine therapy to treat your depression, you must discuss this idea with your family doctor or your mental health therapist. You must understand that it is not the first option to treat depression and is considered only when other treatments are not working.