Ketamine, an equine anesthetic and sometime party drug, is one of the newer treatments available for seriously depressed patients. It is given intravenously in small amounts over about an hour’s time in clinics all across America. For some of these patients it has been a wonder drug, lifting their symptoms and spirits for weeks at a time.
Ketamine treatment remains experimental and thus, expensive, so a mainstream verdict on its efficacy is not readily available. Offered by Psychiatrists on a per-dose basis or package price, my doctor recommended 6 doses spaced out over two weeks as a reasonable starting point. I felt like this was a sensible next step in my search for relief from a crushing depression since I had already tried ECT and many different anti-depressants,
My doctor had a nurse to administer the IV and monitor my blood pressure throughout each session. She kept me company as the ketamine warped my vision and ability to keep track of what I was saying. The “doping’ effect usually started after 15 minutes and lasted until the end of the drip. You only needed about 15 minutes to feel stable and ready to go on your way after the drip finished.
I felt a bit better after the fourth or fifth ketamine dose and they told me I could hope for maybe 6 weeks of relief before I needed to come back for more. This was accurate enough, but I didn’t have the finances for another round until a few months later. When I could afford it, I did 3 more sessions and didn’t feel any better, so I stopped doing it.
Overall, I still feel that ketamine treatment holds promise as an option for depressed patients. The new nasal spray delivery of ketamine, called Spravato, may indeed prove to be a success. My hope is that there are viable options available for people to fight off depression and to live fuller lives.
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