One interesting thing about ketamine-based treatment is the speedy onset of relief. Traditional SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressant drug effects are often not felt within the first month, if at all. With ketamine treatments, for those who respond, the effects are nearly immediate. Most patients are aware whether the ketamine infusions help within hours of the first infusion. At this point, a series of infusions is scheduled over a two-three week period. For most who have sought treatment, side effects are non-existent, which for antidepressant drugs is remarkable. Oral antidepressants generally come with some sort of negative peripheral effects ranging from loss of libido to suicidal ideations.
Steven Mandel at the Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles, who has given more than 4,000 infusions over the past four years, spoke recently to Wired magazine.
“The other antidepressants take weeks to months to have an effect. Ketamine kicks in within hours,” he says. “It works on people that nothing else has worked on.”
According to the National Institutes of Health, up to a third of those suffering from depression don’t respond to prescription antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
“I don’t think anybody should be afraid of it,” tech entrepreneur Spencer told Wired. “You’re not getting handed pills at a club by somebody. You’re going to a professional and you’re in a space that’s safe.”
The jury is still out and more trials will have to be run before the treatments are approved specifically by the FDA, but Dr. Mandel told Wired that out of more than 600 patients, 83 percent have shown improvements. Ketamine treatments aren’t offered for cases of mild to moderate depression. For now it is only used in only severe cases, specifically treatment-resistant clinical depression where typical SSRI’s have failed to qualify. At the moment, ketamine, ECT (electro-convulsive shock), TMS (trans-magnetic stimulation) and ketamine therapy seem to be the most effective treatments for the hardest cases. Read more.