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.
Ketamine has the potential to treat even the most severe cases of depression within a matter of hours. It has changed the lives of thousands of Americans. It has brought hope to those who have had none. And yet researchers still don’t know exactly how this drug works, the antidepressive mechanism still largely a mystery.
Since 2012, it seems researchers have discovered a steady stream of new applications for ketamine. Introduced as an anesthetic in the early ‘70s, it has more recently gained popularity for its highly impressive antidepressant and antipsychotic qualities. Ketamine research shows that infusions, when administered following the proper protocol under expert supervision, dramatically improve depressive symptoms in upwards of 70% of patients. Similarly extraordinary results have manifested in ketamine studies pertaining to PTSD prevention and treatment, addiction treatment, and chronic pain management.
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.