The gloom of depression and existential disruption of PTSD can be all consuming and unrelenting. For some patients, medications work beautifully. For others, lifestyle modifications and therapy help to lessen the effects. But for many, depression and PTSD symptoms persist despite treatment, and may even worsen over time.
Thanks to ketamine, a drug historically used for pain, patients who suffer at this magnitude have new hope.
“Ketamine works differently than other psychiatric medications historically available to patients,” said Joshua Flatow, a psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health in Los Angeles, Calif. “We are excited to offer this innovative therapy to patients and optimize their mental health outcomes.”
Research by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health found that ketamine can boost mood, reduce fatigue and make inroads into helping depressed people who have tried prescription drugs and talk therapy with limited or no success.
The study explored the efficacy, safety and clinical guidelines for the use of ketamine in the two focus areas of treatment-resistant depression and PTSD. However it also found that ketamine provided relief for a variety of other mental health problems and symptoms, including fatigue, anhedonia, and suicidal ideation.
Low-Doses of IV Ketamine Delivered Improved Symptoms in Hours
Not only did several studies note that ketamine provided significant improvement in depression versus the placebo used, but that the benefits manifested in a matter of hours or even minutes in some cases.
“Ketamine produces a dissociative experience, which means that patients feel a peculiar disconnect from their body while their brain undergoes an intensely new sensation,” said Mottsin Thomas, a psychiatrist at Pacific Mind Health. “The effects are instantly transformative for some and delayed for others, but are felt far sooner than the typical 4-week delay associated with more traditional antidepressants.”
One study noted that ketamine had a more pronounced effect on patients with major depressive disorder (MDD) than those with bipolar depression. Varying dosages were also investigated, with a finding of greater efficacy for low-dose treatments.
Ketamine, like opioids, has potential for abuse because of its dissociative effect, particularly for patients with substance abuse disorders. Providers evaluate each patient’s history in determining whether ketamine treatment is appropriate, and dosages indicated for psychiatric treatment are sub-dissociative and less likely to cause unwanted side effects.
Patients No Longer Have to Feel Tired and ‘Numb’ All the Time
In addition to improvement in depression, patients who undergo IV ketamine therapy report reduced fatigue and increased ability to feel pleasure. Patients endorse feeling the most pronounced effect for the first two days after treatment, with a gradual decline in the benefit over the following two weeks.
For the results of ketamine treatment to last longer, it’s usually recommended that patients receive 2-3 infusions per week for a total of up to 8 infusions. After initial treatment some patients return as needed for ‘ketamine booster infusions. Pacific Mind Health offers IV Ketamine treatment to patients in Los Angeles and Long Beach. Learn more about Pacific Mind Health’s approach to ketamine treatment on our website.
“As practitioners, we are pleased to bring ketamine to our practice because of its quick, positive results for patients,” said Dr. Flatow. “By making ketamine treatment readily available, we hope to give patients with depression and PTSD a new outlook on life.”
Pacific Mind Health is currently offering consultations and accepting new patients for ketamine therapy. If you believe you may be suffering from a mental health condition that could benefit from ketamine, please contact us to schedule a consultation.