Is this treatment FDA approved?
Not yet. Over the past two decades dozens of studies in prestigious medical centers and The National Institute of Mental Health has proven ketamine’s safety and efficacy in treating major depressive disorders, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorders and suicide ideation. Pharmaceutical companies are working on FDA approval of a specific formulation of ketamine. While ketamine is actively being studied by NIMH and several prestigious medical centers in efforts to obtain FDA approval, it is currently being used “off label,” as is true with many other medications prescribed by physicians.
Why doesn’t insurance cover it?
Insurance doesn’t cover ketamine therapy because it’s not FDA-approved for use on these conditions. It is considered “off-label,” however, doctors frequently and successfully use several medications outside of their FDA-approved use.
How many infusions will I need and how long will I feel better?
If you have a favorable response to the first few infusions, a total of six is recommended within a 2 week period. Subsequent single booster infusions varies between patients.
If ketamine does work, will I be on it for the rest of my life?
Right now ketamine infusion therapy is the most exciting and successful new treatment for severe depression and chronic pain. Patients seem to respond to a short treatment course, however, long term results of ketamine are not known and are still being investigated.
Will I be put to sleep?
No. The dose of ketamine you will receive does not cause any loss of consciousness.
What will I experience during the infusion?
Most patients experience a mild dissociation or inner reflective experience that is generally well tolerated and described as pleasant by most. However, if you find it unpleasant, we can slow the infusion or treat you with a one-time dose of anti-anxiety medication. Within 15 minutes of ending the infusion, your thinking will be clear. There are no delayed “flashbacks.”
Are there any medications that will interfere with ketamine treatment?
Yes. Your doctor will review your medication profile and discuss any contradictions that may exist.
Will I have to stop other antidepressant medications?
No, other antidepressant medications do not interfere with ketamine’s mechanism of action. You should discuss these medication with your doctor.
Are there any medical conditions that will exclude me from treatment?
Yes there are. Your physician will review your past medical history and discuss any contradictions that may exist.
Should I be concerned about any risks or addiction with ketamine therapy?
No, ketamine has been proven safe in humans over five decades in and out of hospitals and battle fields for surgical anesthesia and trauma management. Those patients experience longer exposures and at much higher doses than those used to treat severe depression. Ketamine does not produce a “high” or cause any withdrawal symptoms. The goal is to help you feel “normal” again.
How quickly can I be seen?
In general, five to seven days are required to get you onto the schedule.