I would like to explain a little how ketamine works. Many years ago, when I first heard of ketamine being used for depression, like many of you, I thought that it was a sham treatment, that all doctors were doing was getting people a high which didn’t fix anything.
But, then I researched it. I looked at dozens of scientific experiments and studies, with randomized control groups, and all the measures researchers use to ensure a result is objectively valid. What it does is cause lasting changes in neurons in at least 3 parts of the brain That are associated with depression. When scientists looked at these changes in rats, they examined the rats’ brains weeks later, and found that these changes in the brain from ketamine still existed. This is amazing.
This effect is called long term potentiation. This means that beyond the 45 minutes of infusion, changes are made to the brain that last weeks. Then, find his to started studying this in humans. They did scans of the brain called PET scans, which show how the brain metabolizes sugar. It showed that the neurons associated in parts of the brain with depression actually started eating up more sugar again, showing that the neurons destroyed by depression started working again. Again, this effect lasted far beyond the actual infusion time that the people were getting.
I also learned that ketamine was given at a tiny fraction of the dose used in anesthesia, and an even tinier fraction of the dose at people use recreationally. It’s kind of similar to how Prozac and Zoloft do the same thing as MDMA but on very tiny scales. And in tiny scales, these drugs can help people feel better. Ketamine is an important, and many times life saving, treatment for people who have tried handfuls of psychiatric drugs that didn’t work. Ketamine is one more spring of hope for people who have taken meds for years but are still crippled from depression. And, ketamine works in just 2 weeks, whereas medications take up to 2 months to work.
Dr. Sarah Hernandez
As a psychiatrist, I understand the intricacies of how the mind and body work together, and one of my main beliefs is making sure medical contributors to psychological conditions are fully assessed and treated or ruled out as we travel down the path of mental and spiritual wellness. I specialize in understanding how medical and psychiatric conditions work together. This guides me toward discussing various options for treatment, and you decide which of those options is right for you.