Depression is a complex issue, and every case is different. Some people respond really well to prescription medications like SSRIs, and others do not. If you have tried standard prescription drugs and therapy for your depression, but you're still feeling pretty blue, there's another option to consider: ketamine.
Ketamine was once predominantly used as a street drug, but recently, researchers are finding that it has benefits for people suffering from depression. Here are the basic facts you should know about using ketamine for depression.
1. Ketamine is often delivered via IV.
If you want to use ketamine for the treatment of depression, you will need to schedule an appointment for an infusion. Your doctor may refer you to a specialized infusion clinic for the treatment. Basically, you will lie down on a table and an IV will be inserted into your arm. A bag if saline infused with ketamine will them be slowly introduced to your bloodstream. The process may take about 20 minutes, perhaps a bit longer if you have smaller veins and the practitioner needs to use a smaller needle.
2. You won't be on ketamine forever.
When you use other prescription medications for depression, you are often put on them indefinitely. Ketamine is different. You will be scheduled for a series of infusions, often over a one or two-month period. At the end of the period, you will stop getting infusions — and your relief from depression should last. Some people never need a follow-up booster. Others return once a month or every few months for another ketamine IV to keep their mood stable. However, the goal is still to wean you off the ketamine after a year or two.
3. There might be risks to consider.
Ketamine treatment is safe for most people, but there are some possible side effects. Nausea and vomiting, high blood pressure, and changes in vision are possible. Some people begin to feel like they dissociate or are having out-of-body experiences. If you have any of these side effects, tell your doctor about them. Your doctor will weigh the severity of the side effects against the benefits you're getting from the ketamine to determine whether it's safe for you to continue.
To learn more about ketamine therapy, reach out to your doctor or therapist. This medication has helped many patients with stubborn depression finally get the relief they need and live a better life.