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  • John M. Thurston, MD

An Introduction to Ketamine Treatment:


Ketamine rendition of mountains
Dissolving Mountains

Ketamine, once primarily known as an anesthetic, has begun to make waves in the medical community for its potential therapeutic benefits, especially in the treatment of severe depression. This article introduces the reader to the expanding landscape of ketamine treatment, its applications, and what one might expect when considering this treatment option.


Background: What is Ketamine?


Originally developed in the 1960s, ketamine was primarily used as an anesthetic for surgeries. Unlike many anesthetics, ketamine doesn’t suppress breathing or circulation, making it safe for use in a variety of settings. However, its therapeutic potential extends beyond anesthesia, leading to its exploration in various treatments.


Applications of Ketamine Treatment


1. Treatment-Resistant Depression: Perhaps the most significant breakthrough has been the use of ketamine in treating depression that doesn't respond to conventional therapies. Many patients report rapid relief from depressive symptoms, sometimes in as little as a few hours after treatment.


2. Chronic Pain: Some individuals with chronic pain conditions, especially neuropathic pain, have found relief through ketamine infusions.


3. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and Anxiety: Preliminary research suggests ketamine is also effective for conditions like PTSD and severe anxiety. Though more research is needed in this area it has been our experience at North Idaho Ketamine that these treatments can very effective. (More to come on this in a future post!)


What to Expect During Treatment


1. Administration: Ketamine can be administered through various means including intravenous (IV) infusions, intramuscular injections, nasal sprays, and oral tablets. The method of administration largely depends on the provider and setting. Back in 2019 we started with intramuscular injections but moved to IV routes of administration in 2021. The IV route has many advantages including 100% bioavailability and the ability to change the dosing at any time including turning the infusion off. Other routes of administration require “riding it out” if things don’t go well.


2. Duration: A single IV infusion session usually lasts between 40 minutes to an hour, but patients might be at the clinic for 1.5 to 2 hours in total, accounting for preparation and post-treatment monitoring. Most people appreciate more time so we move to 60 minutes when people are comfortable with the experience.


3. Side Effects: Some individuals experience side effects like dizziness, nausea, or hallucinations during the treatment. These effects typically wear off shortly after the treatment ends. It’s essential to have someone to drive you home after the session.


4. Frequency: The number of treatments required varies by individual and condition. Some patients might require multiple sessions spread out over several weeks, while others may benefit from fewer sessions. We discount for a series of 6 treatments over three weeks. Think “21 days to a new habit.” This dosing schedule seems to help the experience “live in the bones” and lead to more lasting change.


Safety and Considerations


While many find relief through ketamine treatment, it’s not suitable for everyone. Those with a history of psychosis or certain other medical conditions might be advised against it. Additionally, like all medications, there's a risk of misuse or developing a dependency, so it's crucial to approach treatment with a licensed, reputable provider.


Conclusion


The realm of ketamine treatment is an exciting frontier in modern medicine, offering hope to those who may have found little relief in traditional treatments. As always, when considering a new medical treatment, it's essential to conduct thorough research and consult with healthcare professionals to determine the best course of action. If you are interested in learning more please call or text us: 208-215-7936.


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