Ketamine infusion therapy may be an innovative solution for some mental health issues, particularly treatment-resistant depression. Notably, ketamine has been an FDA-approved anesthetic since the 1960s, and was used frequently on the front lines of the Vietnam War.
Since then, doctors have noticed an interesting trend among ketamine users — reduced depression levels. For example, those who respond to ketamine treatment often experience reduced suicidal ideation quickly, whereas other options usually take weeks or even months to be effective.
Importantly, ketamine is not FDA-approved to treat mental health conditions. However, practitioners successfully use “off-label” (generic) ketamine during therapy sessions to help patients overcome chronic depression. In fact, researchers suggest that ketamine, when administered slowly through an IV, exerts a calming effect on the parts of the brain that control mood and behavior.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a white or light brown powder on the streets and a clear liquid in a medical setting. Common methods of ingestion include snorting or eating it (when consumed recreationally) or through an IV in a clinic. Consumers may feel the effects immediately or up to 30 minutes after consumption depending on the mode of ingestion, and will usually feel its effects for about an hour.
The most common sensations associated with ketamine use include feelings of bliss, confusion, detachment, relaxation, and being “tripped out.” Higher doses of ketamine may also cause nausea, depression, memory loss, and painlessness.
Is Ketamine Therapeutic?
Intravenous ketamine includes two mirror molecules: R-ketamine and S-ketamine. Together, these molecules help reduce pain and induce antidepressant activity.
Though we don’t fully understand why ketamine exerts these therapeutic qualities, experts believe it’s because of the way it binds to NMDA receptors in the brain, which increases glutamate production. Notably, this neurotransmitter activates AMPA receptors. When AMPA and NMDA fire in unison, the brain releases additional molecules that aid neural communication along new pathways. This process called synaptogenesis directly affects mood, cognition, and thought patterns.
However, synaptic development is only one method by which psychedelics like ketamine may help improve mood. Further research suggests that ketamine reduces brain inflammation by dulling the signals that trigger it. These three mechanisms (reducing brain inflammation, facilitating cellular communication, and promoting the development of new neurological pathways) may help explain ketamine’s therapeutic potential for treating mood disorders.
What to Expect from Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Those with treatment resistant depression may find relief with ketamine infusion therapy. A medical practitioner will help determine if ketamine therapy is a viable option, which generally only happens as a last line of defense.
Notably, ketamine therapy is most effective when administered slowly through an IV as clinicians monitor the patient. To ensure the best possible experience, clinicians will set up the patient in a private, comfortable room, which may include calming lighting and music, as well.
Aside from the initial prick of the IV needle, the experience is completely painless. Patients usually feel a boost in spirits almost immediately, but will not feel an intense “high” that often accompanies opioid medications. Patients may also feed slightly sedated, but usually remain awake for the whole treatment.
Ketamine therapy is usually effective after the first treatment with results lasting up to two weeks on average. However, long-term care often requires follow-up infusions, which may include a series of up to six more infusions over a two- to three-week period.
After this “induction” phase of ketamine therapy, the patient and doctor will decide together what to do next. For example, they may cease ketamine treatment at this time or begin a “maintenance” period, instead. Ketamine maintenance involves additional infusions every two to six weeks to help the patient sustain initial positive results of ketamine infusion therapy.
Notably, it’s not always realistic to expect patients to return for IV therapy indefinitely. As such, nasal ketamine medications may offer comparable benefit. However, nasal ketamine medicines only include S-ketamine, which may not be as effective as racemic ketamine, or ketamine that includes both S- and R-ketamine.
Where to find Ketamine Therapy Near you
30 US states currently offer ketamine infusion therapy, plus some locations in Spain and Canada. Below is a list of current ketamine infusion therapy centers. Please check back often for updates.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy Centers
Balance Ketamine Clinics
Provider: Abhijit Shinde, MD, PhDMDPhDInternal Medicine
Balanced Mental Wellness
This Colorado ketamine infusion clinic offers treatments such as Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy, Integrative Psychiatry, and Better Together Healing.
Bay Area Ketamine Center
Bay Area Ketamine Center offers ketamine infusion treatments for depression, chronic pain, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and more out of California.
Center for Holistic Healthcare
Center for Holistic Healthcare offers ketamine therapy for treatment of pain and mood disorders.
CIT Clinics offer ketamine infusion therapy for treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, migraines CRPS, chronic pain, immunity and resilience, athletic performance and more out of California.
Klarity Ketamine Clinic of Southern California
Klarity Ketamine Clinic of Southern California offers ketamine infusion therapy and claims to have a greater than 85% success rate for depression, PTSD, and higher success rates with drug and alcohol patients.
Lighthouse Wellness Spa
Lighthouse Wellness Spa offers ketamine infusion therapy for Chronic Pain, Migraines, Anxiety, Depression, and PTSD.
Pain Medicine Consultants
Pain Medicine Consultants use ketamine infusion therapy as a treatment option for chronic pain, anxiety, depression, and stress. Their treatment team consist of Harvard-, Stanford-, and Mayo Clinic-trained doctors out of California.
Palomar KLN Infusion Center
Palomar KLN Infusion Center offers an array of alternative medicine services including ketamine lidocaine and iv nutrition infusion therapy.
Priority You offers patients a unique trifecta of alternative, wellness and regenerative health center that specializes in ketamine therapy.
Soft Reboot Wellness
Soft Reboot Wellness offers IV ketamine therapy and determines dose based on the individual patient and not weight recommendations.
Spark Psychedelic Therapy
Spark Psychedelic Therapy offers concierge ketamine infusions and Telehealth integration and therapy.
Summit Ketamine Innovations
Summit Ketamine Innovations is treating patients with ketamine IV therapy for conditions such as Depression, Postpartum, Anxiety, PTSD, OCD, Bipolar, Suicidal Ideation Treatment, Chronic Pain, CRPS, Migraine, Fibromyalgia, Neuropathy, RLS and more.
The Florida Psychiatric Center
The Florida Psychiatric Center provides ketamine therapy options to patients treating both depression and anxiety.
TMS & Brain Health
TMS & Brain Health TMS therapy, ketamine treatment, and neurofeedback to help treatment at this practice out of California
Ventura Center for Advanced Therapeutics
Ventura Center for Advanced Therapeutics offers ketamine infusion therapy to treat various chronic pain, chronic migraines, fibromyalgia, and peripheral neuropathy in addition to treatment-resistant depression, PTSD and other mental health conditions out of California.
Vitalis Denver Ketamine Centers
With multiple Denver Metro Area clinics, Vitalis Denver Ketamine Centers offers ketamine infusion therapy to treat TRD, postpartum depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety and PTSD and more.
Final Thoughts About Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Ketamine is just one of many psychedelic substances that clinicians use to promote better mental health. Breakthroughs in psychedelic research have proven its therapeutic potential, allowing patients to finally receive help for their treatment-resistant depression.