Ketamine is currently prescribed and used to treat a number of unique medical and clinical situations: from general anesthesia for surgical procedures, to sublingual doses in the treatment of mental health conditions.
Of particular interest is ketamine’s use as an “off-label” medicine for the treatment of mental health conditions. Regarding its applications in medical and surgical procedures, it is so effective and well-supported by medical professionals that the World Health Organization designates it as an essential medicine.
Support for Ketamine’s Off-Label Efficacy
As it was originally approved as an anesthetic in medical procedures, the use of ketamine for therapeutic outcomes in the treatment of mental health conditions are classified as “off-label” use: using a medicine for something other than the original scenario it was approved for.
The existence of off-label uses for ketamine are the first indicator of its efficacy. A potential treatment must demonstrate reasonable and remarkable proof of its ability to treat other symptoms and conditions to be considered for off-label use.
Ketamine’s Mental Health Use-Cases
Ketamine use in the treatment of mental health conditions is still an emerging area of research and study. More trials are underway to demonstrate the depth and breadth of ketamine’s applications and potential.
There are a few core areas of research underway:
- Ketamine as a treatment for major depressive disorder (MDD) / treatment-resistant depression
- Ketamine as a novel treatment for general anxiety and social anxiety disorders
- Using ketamine to manage bipolar disorder (BPD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and substance use disorders (SUD)
- Ketamine as an early treatment for managing suicidal ideation
As more studies emerge, the results are promising: From the rapid onset of results, to long-lasting effects, ketamine as a novel treatment in the mental health space is showing to be highly effective.
Core Benefits of Ketamine Therapy for Mental Health
There are a number of features that make ketamine therapy remarkable and effective as a medicine for the mental health field.
Rapid onset and visibility of results and positive outcomes
Unlike some traditional pharmacological interventions, which can take up to 6 weeks to begin showing positive outcomes, some clients working with ketamine therapy report seeing results within hours of their first treatment.
Long-tail endurance and durability of its outcomes
The second core benefit is what is called the durability of the benefits — those that extend beyond just the dosing session or the immediate hours following administration.
Early research has highlighted enduring effects from a single treatment that remain noticeable weeks after the dosing session.
Addresses and heals underlying drivers of the conditions
Along with the immediate mood-regulating effects of a ketamine session, there may be longer-term neurochemical and biological benefits from ketamine.
Some of these benefits may include increasing the presence of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain, which can help create new, healthy neural connections.
The dissociative and psychedelic subjective experiences ketamine induces can provide new behavioral insights, clarity into life circumstances, and surface deep-embodied emotions or feelings. Integrating and addressing what comes up in ketamine therapy can lead to more resiliency, positive affect, and brighter futures for clients.
It fits into your life
Convenience is an important factor that makes ketamine therapy a useful and appealing treatment option.
The experience itself lasts around 90 minutes when using sublingual tablets, so it’s not a full-day commitment for those whose schedules don’t allow.
Because ketamine's benefits and durability can be long-lasting, you aren’t required to take a pill every day to see benefits.
Any side-effects are minimal and subside quickly
With programs like Mindbloom, you can receive psychedelic therapy from the comfort of your own home, monitored by a close friend or loved one, while under the guidance of experienced clinicians and highly-trained guides.
The “felt” or physiological effects last around one hour, and short term side effects such as altered sense of time, nausea, restlessness, and elevated blood pressure or heart rate typically subside shortly following the treatment experience.
With a relatively proven and promising efficacy profile for mental health treatment, coupled with the flexibility and adaptability of the treatment programs themselves, ketamine therapy can be a life-changing experience that doesn’t require you changing your life for it. It meets you where you’re at.
What Results Do Clients Commonly See?
The results summary from a 2019 study on individuals with major depressive disorder explains the potential for powerful results:
“There was a significant improvement in depression, anxiety, and the severity of illness after 2 weeks and 1 month of the last dose of ketamine. Significant improvement at 1st [hour] of the first dose was seen in depression and anxiety and not for illness severity. There were transient adverse effects observed in some patients which subsided within 1 [hour].”
In more direct terms, this indicates:
- Significant improvements in depression and anxiety symptoms, and illness severity, lasting at least one month after the last dose.
- Significant improvement noticeable within the first hour of the first dose, which did not make the illness more severe.
- Some adverse effects subsided within the hour.
Ketamine can be a powerful medicine, and a breakthrough therapy for those with depression and anxiety.
Mindbloom clients who respond well to treatment report outcomes across the spectrum:
- Reduction in symptoms for anxiety and depression diagnoses.
- No longer displaying objective symptoms or meeting criteria for mental illness.
- Subjective reports of feeling completely changed or revitalized.
Here’s what one client had to say about their progress:
"I 100% recommend Mindbloom to anyone who has been stuck with anxiety, depression, or stress and wants to try something new. I’ve come to see old problems in new ways and feel like I have a better perspective on the world." — Mattan G.
Is Ketamine an Effective Mental Health Treatment?
In short, yes! Ketamine is shown to be effective in treating those with depression and anxiety and the corresponding symptoms, and this is backed by research.
Mindbloom will continue developing and providing therapeutic experiences with ketamine. It’s shown to be fast-acting, long-lasting, safe, well-tolerated, and effective. Consult your mental health provider or take the assessment on our website to see if Mindbloom could be a fit for you.
This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.
Important FDA Safety Information
Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.
Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).
Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:
- Allergic to ketamine
- Symptoms of psychosis or mania
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- CHF or other serious heart problem
- Severe breathing problem
- History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
- History of hyperthyroidism
- Other serious medical illness
- Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant
Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.
While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.
- In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
- Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
- Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom clinician before proceeding with treatment.
- The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.
To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:
- Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
- Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
- Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
- Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
- Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
- Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety