Ketamine – What?

So, as the modern consumer of depression treatments may have heard, there’s a potential new drug out there in the Wild West of depression treatments.


Yes, Special-K, the club drug, the horse tranquilizer. Depending on who you ask, between one and six treatments (or trips, depending on your perspective) will knock most depression out of the game for–again, depending on who you ask–6 weeks to a year or more.

I first heard about tripping on Special-K to treat depression in 2014, from a medical school professor of mine. He basically demanded to know why I hadn’t pursued ketamine, which at that point I’d only ever heard of as a club drug, because there was some promising research on using it to treat depression. It was being studied, therefore surely I had access to it, right?

Now, it’s 2020. Turns out, people have been experimenting with ketamine and more than just depression for the past 6 years.

I made a friend who said ketamine gave her the one depression-free year of her adult life so far. I’ve been given a phone number of a doctor in town who does ketamine treatment. I have a book (The ECT Handbook) with a whole chapter on ketamine that I haven’t read, but here’s what I’ve gathered so far:

The evidence suggests ketamine works for temporary but effective remission of depression, with data still needed on dosage, timing, and other details. Insurance doesn’t cover it. People who believe in ketamine therapy for depression really believe in ketamine therapy for depression.

Some people say one treatment kills depression for over a year. Some people report their clinic doing an “index treatment” of 6 infusions in 2 weeks, and repeating that a few times a year.

Clinics agree about as much on dosages, especially as might vary by weight, muscle vs. fat, metabolism, drug interactions, or other factors.

But the people who believe in it really, really believe in it.

More on this topic to come!