Ketamine and the related compound esketamine (Spravato) represent a truly innovative treatment that won FDA approval for the rapid treatment of depression in 2019. Our providers are some of the first in the Bay Area to develop expertise in this modality of treatment. We are dedicated to providing innovative and individualized treatment and are proud to offer ketamine services ranging from ketamine assisted psychotherapy to nasal spray or ketamine infusion.
- Treatment Resistant Depression
- Bipolar Depression
- Certain anxiety disorders including PTSD
- Certain pain conditions
Ketamine is a drug that blocks pain — an anesthetic — that was first developed in the 1960s for use in surgeries. In 2000, researchers began studying the other effects of ketamine and found that it was rapidly effective for the treatment of depression, even when other treatments had failed. Ketamine therapy has been hailed in Science magazine as the “biggest breakthrough in depression research in a half century” and has provided much-needed, fast-acting relief to those with chronic, treatment-resistant mental health conditions and suicidal thoughts.
To best serve our patients, BPA has developed different options for ketamine treatment. We provide ketamine injections, IV infusions, and oral dosing. The type of treatment provided is based on different patient factors, and we will discuss with you which method will work best. While receiving ketamine, patients often experience a dissociated state – many researchers feel that in this state, patients are particularly able to benefit from specific psychotherapy techniques known as ketamine assisted psychotherapy or somatic therapies. Other patients prefer to spend the time listening to music or quietly resting. Our experienced psychiatrists work with each individual to determine which method will be most effective for you.
Ketamine is known to block NMDA receptors in the brain, a type of neurotransmitter that is thought to be involved in depression. However, the precise mechanism is not fully understood, as it is also known that ketamine interacts with other receptors including opioid receptors. Research has shown that, unlike the antidepressant medications which typically take several weeks to achieve benefit, ketamine may be rapidly effective and can have long lasting effects, although most people require multiple treatments over a longer period of time to achieve durable improvement. Ketamine creates a more open state of mind and stimulates the formation of new synapses, decreasing symptoms in as quickly as a few days or even hours. It is proving to be a remarkably safe and effective tool in relieving those who have suffered for many years with depression, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and suicidal drive.
Ketamine has been in use as an anesthetic for many years and is known to be safe and well tolerated. As noted, it can cause a “dissociative” state, in which people may transiently experience a sense of unreality, blurred vision or other sensory changes. This may last for a few hours and wear off. Other transient side effects such as dry mouth, headache, nausea, or impaired coordination may be possible to avoid by pretreating with appropriate medications. Ketamine can also cause short term increase in blood pressure and heart rate, thus patients require basic medical screening prior to starting the treatment.
Possibly. Now that esketamine has received FDA approval for the treatment of depression, we expect this treatment to become a covered option for more patients. Currently, some insurances are starting to provide some coverage for parts of the visit, including the medication itself, while others do not. Cost of treatment will also vary depending on the type of ketamine treatment provided. Our treatment team will work with you and your insurance to determine what coverage is available.