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Ketamine Treatment and Depression

answered 04:44 PM EST, Wed November 21, 2012
anonymous anonymous
I have read more and more reports that seem to indicate that Ketamine helps people with major depression and that it can work almost instantly. My sister has life-threatening depression and nothing has worked for her. She has attempted suicide twice in the past and she is in a bad place right now. I know this sounds extreme but that’s really where we are with this. Do you know if anyone is offering Ketamine treatment yet? I would not like to see her do this without a psychiatrist’s supervision.

Dr. Lani Chin Says...

Thanks for your post.  It sounds like you're concerned for your sister.  She's lucky to have someone like you on her side. 

First of all, I want to clarify that ketamine was found to immediately lower levels of depression, but this is not a long term solution.  From my understanding, the use of ketamine for now has been approved as an alternative to an inpatient program.  For example, if someone attempted suicide and ended up in the ER where they were also diagnosed with severe depression; instead of sending him/her to an inpatient ward that could cost upwards from $1000 per night, ketamine could be used to get the patient to a functioning level.  At a later time, outpatient psychotherapy would then be required.  So from my understanding, ketamine can be used to stabilize a patient...not treat them on a long term basis for depression.  With that in mind, there are no facilities that I know of that utilize a ketamine treatment yet.  I don't think there ever will be.  Additionally, this is a fairly new finding...barely out of clinical trials.  This means there hasn't been a real evaluation as to how this will affect patients who have utilized this treatment 5, 10 or even 15 years down the road.  This is a crucial factor to consider.

Hope this answers your question.  Good luck to you.

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Page last updated Nov 21, 2012

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