Ketamine was initially developed as an anesthetic; it received FDA approval for this use in 1970. In 2006, a landmark study on the use of ketamine in treating depression was published by the National Institute of Mental Health. The study revealed that a single intravenous dose of ketamine produced "robust and rapid antidepressant effects" within just a few hours.

Since then, several other studies (including this May 2016 study) have shown similar findings. As a result, although ketamine hasn’t yet been FDA-approved to treat depression, a growing number of physicians across the country are turning to ketamine to provide a potentially life-changing solution for people in need of rapid relief from depression and severe anxiety. Also, a May 2017 study found that FDA data support ketamine as a depression therapy.

The University of Iowa is currently studying the longer-term effects of ketamine. Learn more.

Several articles have been published about the use of ketamine to treat depression, including:

How ketamine works

Ketamine works differently than standard depression medications (like Prozac, Zoloft and others) by NMDA receptor modulation as a novel mechanism for accelerated improvement in severe and chronic forms of depression. 

In addition to ketamine’s ability to help some depression sufferers when other medications have failed, ketamine also acts much faster than standard antidepressants. In fact, patients may find significant improvement in depression symptoms within hours of a ketamine dose — versus weeks or months with other antidepressants. 

About the treatment

During the treatment, a low dose of ketamine is administered via an I/V. Each infusion lasts approximately 40 - 60 minutes. A series of six infusions over a two-week period is recommended for optimal results. After the initial series, patients return only as needed for single “booster” infusions.

Patients should not eat or drink anything starting four to six hours before an infusion.

Most people tolerate the treatment well. All medications have potential side effects, and your Iowa Ketamine provider will discuss those with you in detail. Some potential side effects include temporary confusion and blurred vision. These side effects generally go away very quickly — usually by the time a single infusion is finished. But to be on the safe side, patients should avoid driving for 24 hours after a ketamine infusion.

Cost of ketamine treatment

The cost of ketamine used in the treatment of depression is generally not covered by insurance. Our cost page provides more information on the cost of ketamine treatment at Iowa Ketamine Clinic, as well as about our financing option.