Ketamine Treatment For Depression

There are many treatments for depression available to you. They include:

  • Psychotherapy options such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Interpersonal Therapy (IPT), and psychodynamic therapy
  • Medications such as Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), atypical antidepressants, tricyclic antidepressants, and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs)
  • Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT), dynamic neural training, and other treatments

Your physician or mental health specialist prescribes the best treatments to help you get back to a good daily quality of life.

Patients who may be appropriate for ketamine treatment for depression have tried some of these other treatments already. They haven’t worked well enough, aren’t working fast enough, or aren’t working at all. Ketamine is another treatment available to you.

Benefits of Ketamine

Ketamine treatment for depression offers benefits many other treatments do not. For patients who respond well to treatment, the biggest benefit is how fast ketamine works. Numerous studies with IV ketamine have shown that patients can have a rapid relief in symptoms. More studies are underway. Please consult with Dr. Manno for specific details.

Like any treatment for depression, not all patients will have positive results. It’s also important to know that ketamine isn’t a cure for depression, but rather an adjunct to improve your current therapy; it’s a better way to help you overcome your depression.

medical clipboard

Protocol For Ketamine Treatment For Depression

Pre-Treatment Evaluation

You must have a documented diagnosis of depression from a qualified mental health professional. The first step is complete diagnostics for depression, anxiety, and psychosis before a medical screening exam. All test results are shared with the your providers.

The next step is to complete a medical exam with Dr. Manno. Dr. Manno will review your medical history and discuss what to expect during the treatment experience.

Induction Treatment Phase

Generally speaking, induction with IV ketamine is 2 treatments per week for 2 weeks. Dr. Manno will recommend an induction phase of treatment for you after completing the pre-treatment evaluation.

Booster Treatment Phase

You may need periodic treatments with ketamine to maintain the therapeutic effects after the induction phase is done. Frequency of maintenance treatments will depend upon your response. Some patients ask for oral ketamine lozenges to extend the time between booster treatments. Each patient is unique and the treatment regimen will be determined by Dr. Manno.

Post Induction Monitoring

After induction treatments have been completed, you’ll take the same diagnostic tests given before the Induction Phase. We do this to compare your responses to their baseline and measure the effectiveness of treatment. All results will be shared with your providers.

Research on Ketamine Treatment For Depression

Research into ketamine treatment for depression is ongoing. Here is a sample of studies published and available to the general public or through a PubMed subscription

Source of these summaries:

  1. Murrough, Perez, et al. “Rapid and Longer-Term Antidepressant Effects of Repeated Ketamine Infusions in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression”  Biological Psychiatry2013 Aug 15; 74(4): 250–256.

SUMMARY:  In this article, there were 24 patients treated with six IV infusions of ketamine (.5mg/kg) over 12 days.  The overall response rate was 71% as defined as a reduction in the MADRS scale by  greater than 50%.  The median time to relapse after the last ketamine infusion was 18 days.  25% were symptom free at 90 days, 75% of patients had symptoms free days between 11-27 days.  Side effects were reported to be a mild significant increase in dissociative symptoms.  One patient had to discontinue therapy due to an increase in blood pressure that did not respond to medications (highest BP 180/115).

  1. Shiroma, Johns et al. “Augmentation of response and remission to serial intravenous subanesthetic ketamine in treatment resistant depression” Journal  of Affective Disorders.2014 Feb;155:123-9.

SUMMARY:  In this article, there were 14 patients treated with six IV infusions during a 12 day period.  12 subjects finished all six infusions with 92% response rate and 66% went into remission.  5 out of 11 responders remained in “response status” during the next 28 days.  For the 6 out of 11 responders that relapsed, the mean time was 16 days.  Response was defined as ≥50% improvement in baseline MADRS score and remission was defined as MADRS score ≤9.  No subject experienced severe dissociative symptoms or hemodynamic changes that required stopping the infusions.

  1. Sanacora, Frye, McDonald, et al.  “A Consensus Statement on the Use of Ketamine in the Treatment of Mood Disorders”  JAMA Psychiatry. April                                     2017;74(4):399-405.

SUMMARY:  This review and consensus statement provides a general overview of the data on the use of ketamine for the treatment of mood disorders and highlights the limitations of the existing knowledge.  The suggestions provided are intended to facilitate clinical decision making and encourage an evidence-based approach to using ketamine in the treatment of psychiatric disorders considering the limited information that is currently available. This article provides information on potentially important issues related to the off-label treatment approach that should be considered to help ensure patient safety.