Why Do Psychiatrists Prescribe Ketamine?

Why do Psychiatrists prescribe Ketamine, and what is Ketamine prescribed for? For potential patients and referring clinicians, this is an important question to understand. In short, there are two good answers, but we need to dig a little bit deeper.

One, it works fast. Two, it can work for people for whom traditional treatments don’t work.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine received FDA approval as an anesthetic for people in 1970, and was initially used to treat injured soldiers in the Vietnam War. Unlike other anesthetics, ketamine has the advantage of not slowing down heart rates or breathing, so patients do not require a ventilator when using it. 

Doctors administer ketamine as an aid in treating people for depression and suicidal thoughts. When administered by a medical professional, ketamine can help with treatment-resistant depression and other conditions. It can also help people who do not respond well to other medications for depression.

What is Ketamine Prescribed For?

When the antidepressant quality of ketamine was first investigated back in the early 1990s, one of the first things physicians and researchers took note of was how quickly patients saw improvements. Over the course of the past two decades, it has become increasingly clear that ketamine operates at an unparalleled therapeutic rate. Today, Ketamine is prescribed as an intravenous (IV). During this time, patients often experience near instantaneous relief from depressive symptoms, demonstrating clinically significant responses after only a single 40-minute infusion session.

Take a moment now to compare this response time to traditional antidepressant medications, including SSRIs and monoamines. These drugs, while effective for some, generally take weeks to months to take effect. Even on these treatment regimens, patients can be left struggling aimlessly. For people with severe or highly acute cases, this delay in response may have serious, even life-threatening, consequences.

For this reason, Dr. Carlos Zarate, Chief of Experimental Therapeutics at the National Institute of Mental Health, calls IV-ketamine treatment a “paradigm shift” for the field of psychiatry. He explains that the rapidness of IV ketamine has the potential to treat and save innumerable individuals suffering from suicidal ideations. Fundamentally, ketamine can stabilize individuals, allowing them to survive long enough to seek further treatment.

Dr. Zarate also explains that the rapidness of the response allows for clinicians to quickly correct and respond in cases where ketamine may be ineffective. In other words, if a patient does not respond after the first or second therapy, treatment can be stopped. There is no need to wait months or weeks for a potential response. Long term, this aspect of ketamine delivery will save both time and resources for patients and physicians.

Ketamine Is Often Prescribed For Treatment-Resistant Patients

Since the advent of traditional antidepressants in the early 1950s, depression has typically been treated with a combination of counseling and prescription drugs. The use of traditional antidepressants (particularly SSRIs) has continued to increase in recent years, to the point that nearly one in ten Americans is on an antidepressant medication. However, as commonplace as these drugs are, they are anything but perfect. In fact, statistically, these drugs only have a positive remission response rate of 30-50%, meaning that traditional antidepressants are simply ineffective for half of the patients seeking treatment.

Patients who have tried and subsequently failed one or more drug trials are described to have treatment-resistant depression. For these individuals, seeking relief from symptoms can be a seemingly bleak endeavor, lasting years.

In cases like this, ketamine may be an appropriate intervention, as ketamine has repeatedly proven to be effective when traditional interventions are not. In part, this novel efficacy is due to ketamine’s unique biochemical mechanism. Unlike traditional antidepressants, ketamine does not target neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine. Instead, researchers now believe that ketamine stimulates a broad set of receptors in the brain, which in turn facilitates a process called synaptic neuroplasticity. This process allows the brain to grow and change and is directly linked to the improvement of depressive symptoms.

Recently, in one of the largest IV-ketamine studies to date, Dr. Cristina Cusin at Massachusetts General Hospital found that between 60-70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression responded positively to IV ketamine infusion. Keep in mind, these were all individuals who had failed to see symptom improvement from any previous psychiatric intervention!

In this way, ketamine is not the first line of defense. Instead, it is an invaluable tool for psychiatrists to have at their disposal in order to treat the full range of clinically unique individuals. At Neuro Wellness Spa, we recognize the potential this therapy has and aim to provide this treatment to those who need it most. Our team of trained clinicians and technicians offer a safe and comfortable experience, and we work with both the patient and the referring clinician to determine if IV Ketamine Therapy is the most appropriate treatment. If you believe that you or one of your patients could benefit from IV-ketamine therapy, please contact us for a consultation.

Benefits of Ketamine For Psychiatry

Patients seeking psychiatric care want to experience results as fast as possible. Licensed counselors have many tools at their disposal, which can help their patients make progress. A therapist who understands the benefits of administering or referring a patient to someone who administers ketamine treatment can help speed up the entire treatment process.

Finding a balance that includes ongoing talk therapy and any needed medications, including ketamine treatments, provides patients with optimized treatment that allows them to make progress at an accelerated pace. 

Ketamine Therapy in Southern California

At Neuro Wellness Spa, our Ketamine facility not only specializes in Ketamine Therapy, but a plethora of other services. Our expert staff is here to answer your questions and provide a tested solution to your condition. No matter if you’re struggling with treatment-resistant depression, or another mental health issue, Neuro Wellness Spa can get you back on track to a new life of possibilities. Call us today at 877-847-3984.

2 responses to “Why Do Psychiatrists Prescribe Ketamine?

  • Thanks for helping me learn more about ketamine. I had no idea that ketamine has proven to be very effective if traditional antidepressants. That said I’m kind of interested to learn how much ketamine would typically be used or if that dosage could depend on the individual.

    • statusadmin

      3 years ago

      Taylor, thank you for reading our blog. You are absolutely correct, the dosage is different for every individual. Please give us a call if you would like to discuss ketamien treatment or any of the details at 877-847-3984.

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