Our Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins area ketamine clinics have been treating patients for several years now, a time period over which we’ve been able to watch the progression of this drug as it evolves. We’ve always known, without a doubt, that ketamine is highly effective for the treatment of such psychiatric disorders as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD. However, the exact mechanism that makes ketamine such an effective antidepressant has been something of a mystery to researchers and clinicians alike.
In the 1980s, a Russian research team unveiled data indicating that ketamine may be useful in the treatment of drug and alcohol dependency. In the study, 66% of patients receiving ketamine treatments maintained abstinence for an entire year, compared to 24% who received only psychological counseling.
Researchers first discovered the antidepressant effects of ketamine back in 2000, and have since come to recognize the drug’s ability to improve depressive symptoms—even in patients who had not responded to other methods of treatment—in a matter of hours. Private ketamine clinics, like ours, began to open their doors around 2013, bringing hope to many people who had none.
It is hard to argue against ketamine as the most promising depression treatment available today. In 70% of patients, ketamine effectively and rapidly improves depressive symptoms, even in those patients who have historically resisted other methods of treatment. Study after study shows the same thing: ketamine works, and it works significantly better than traditional antidepressants or psychotherapy.
It’s a frustrating situation, to have this miraculous drug – a drug that is capable of changing and saving lives – so readily available, and yet so inaccessible. Without FDA approval, the overwhelming majority of insurance companies will not cover the cost of ketamine infusion therapy, leaving millions of Americans to suffer in the despair of severe depression. Private label ketamine clinics are operating around the country, but average prices of $500-800 per infusion are inhibitive at best. Even at our clinic, offering the lowest-priced ketamine infusions in the country, this potentially life-changing treatment is still not an option for many people.
Since its introduction as an anesthetic in the ‘60s and its subsequent fall from fashion in the ‘80s, ketamine’s comeback has been an interesting one to watch. Reintroduced to hospital emergency departments as a sedative and analgesic in the late ‘90s, and recently discovered to be a highly effective antidepressant, pain reliever, addiction treatment and potential PTSD vaccine, emergency medical service providers and first-responders are beginning to leveraging the versatility of the drug to provide the best possible care for patients.
Since the antidepressant effects of ketamine were discovered, its seems as though a Pandora’s Box of new uses for the medicine has been opened. Recent studies by the Columbia University Medical Center show that ketamine may prevent PTSD from developing in individuals who will experience a trauma – an especially hopeful discovery for our nation’s soldiers and first responders. Ketamine has also shown promise as an alcohol and cocaine addiction treatment. All of this on top of already being used to effectively alleviate chronic pain, treat depression and mood disorders, and – of course – as an anesthetic.