If you suffer from depression, you aren’t alone. In fact, depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the Unites States today, with nearly 15.7 million American adults suffering from these feelings of persistent sadness and irritability. Untreated, depression can debilitate your daily life, leading to anxiety disorders, eating disorders, substance abuse issues, heart disease and even suicide.
It’s National Mental Health Awareness Month, and there’s no better time for a new beginning in your life. It’s never too late to try something new to treat your depression, and if you feel you’ve exhausted all other options, it may be time to consider ketamine infusion therapy.
In traditional doses, ketamine is a reliable anesthetic that has been used for nearly 50 years to sedate adults and children—but it’s recently become one of the most significant advances in treating many chronic diseases, including:
- Depression (including postpartum depression)
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
- Bipolar disorder (manic with refractory depression)
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also called reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD)
- Neuropathic pain
- Migraine headaches/Persistent daily headaches
Traditional antidepressants can take weeks or even months to reach therapeutic levels and only half of all patients get relief from their symptoms. Research has shown that ketamine not only produces a rapid and robust antidepressant effect where it can lift depression in many patients within hours; it also can put a quick end to suicidal thinking.
Last year, the Ketamine Wellness Clinic of Orange County opened in Mission Hospital Laguna Beach. Patients experience a spa-like environment as a dedicated team of caregivers, including board-certified anesthesiologists, administer the infusion treatment.
“We’re able to provide another avenue to treat the patient population that is traditionally resistant to other forms of treatment. It’s a safe, effective, fast-acting medication with very few side effects,” says Dan Hancock, MD, medical director of the clinic.
Since opening, the clinic has already administered more than 125 infusions to nearly 25 patients, and the results have been “remarkable,” says Dr. Hancock.
“We’re finding that our ketamine infusions are successful treatment options for about seven out of 10 patients,” says Dr. Hancock. “Obviously it’s only one part of the puzzle. Our infusion therapy complements the ongoing treatments—from medications to psychotherapy. We are offering a potential lifeline to those patients who have exhausted other avenues of treatment without effective relief. Often, we’re giving them new hope.”
One patient, who wishes to remain anonymous, thought about suicide more than 1,000 times per day, after the second infusion, her suicidal thoughts had nearly completely disappeared. It stayed that way for almost three months before she chose to return for a single maintenance “booster” infusion.
Another patient said, “I've suffered from anxiety and depression all of my life, and have tried every kind of medicine and therapy. Nothing else worked for me. I had given up on finding relief, but I was much better after the very first ketamine treatment. After several treatments, my life was remarkably improved.”
In February, the clinic expanded its services to using ketamine infusions to also treat persistent daily headaches and refractory migraine headaches as well as neuropathic pain—the results of treating these chronic issues are already proving to be positive.
If you have a mental health disease and feel you’ve exhausted all treatment options, talk to your primary care provider today about whether ketamine infusion therapy may be the next step in your care.
Read more about ketamine infusion therapy, including a Q&A with Dr. Hancock.
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.