We were quite excited about an article published in the New York Times recently. The title of the November 5 article was “The Ketamine Cure.” Our integrative healthcare clinic has been safely working with ketamine since March 2020 and Dr. Stoner, our founding physician, has been working with it for over 20 years as an anesthesiologist. We were intrigued to see ketamine as a subject outside of medical journals and read the article with great interest. Here are some of the highlights and our thoughts as practitioners serving patients with depression, PTSD, chronic pain, and a variety of other conditions.
While ketamine has been around for a long time (FDA approved in the 1960), it has only recently been recognized as a treatment for mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder and others. Ketamine is very effective for treating these conditions and often works even when other treatments have not. Ketamine also offers rapid, sometimes even immediate, relief while traditional treatments take 6-8 weeks or more to be effective. That ketamine is so quick to work and helps people with treatment resistant conditions, is related to the fact that it works differently than other anti-depressant and anti-anxiety medications. In medical jargon, we say that it has a different “mechanism of action”.
“Ketamine appears to impact a neurotransmitter called glutamate, which is thought to play a role in regulating mood….(while) conventional antidepressants… work by increasing serotonin levels.”
The article recognizes: “Typically patients take ketamine through an IV, nasal spray or tablet once or twice a week for six to eight weeks (though some may need to take it longer). Sessions last between one and two hours and can cause feelings of dissociation, or feeling disconnected from reality, and euphoria” and “Though relatively new in the field of mental health, ketamine has been used in hospitals and on battlefields as an anesthetic since 1970. While the drug’s clearance by the Food and Drug Administration does not yet extend most ketamine treatments to mood disorders, any physician can prescribe it off-label to patients whom they believe might benefit.” There are concerns about the safety of ketamine in this new era of access and popularity. The industry is largely unregulated and is perceived by some as a great opportunity to cash in on what they perceive as a very lucrative market. In particular, there are many new providers out there who are inexperienced in using ketamine, do not screen patients well, and are unfamiliar with potential adverse effects and how to manage them.
As noted in the article: “many experts do not believe patients should be self-administering ketamine (emphasis is ours) — which can produce powerful dissociative sensations and even a seemingly catatonic state — outside of a clinical setting.” There is a good deal of evidence that ketamine, when administered in a clinical setting, is safe and extremely effective for treating depression, PTSD, chronic pain, and many other conditions. Our approach to its use is based on our commitment to our patients’ safety. At Satori Clinic, our ketamine treatments include IV infusions only, where patients’ vital signs are monitored closely. We only see patients who are in the active care of a referring provider, and the ketamine infusions are always part of larger treatment plans, which typically include other therapies.
More information about ketamine treatment and the context within which it is provided is detailed here. You can also find the American Psychiatric Association guidelines referred to in the article outline best practices for administering ketamine for mental health diagnoses here.
*In Glenwood Springs, CO, our integrative medicine clinic and ketamine treatment center offers ketamine infusions, integrative medicine, and acupuncture. Dr. Stoner believes there are many paths to health. Her approach to integrative medicine is to work with the patient to choose the science-based tools from a full range of medical traditions and alternative/complementary modalities that optimize their individual mental and physical health. She will work with you and your other health and wellness providers to truly integrate your care.
We specialize in treatment for those suffering from major depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder (bipolar depression), postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and addiction.
We utilize conventional and alternative modalities to help our patients be the best they can be, given what they have and where they’re starting. If you or someone close to you would benefit from our services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment and/or learn how we can help you awaken to a new life.