Ketamine Has Taken the Psychiatric World by Storm. That’s Good … and Bad … News!

WELLNESS--There is a drug that has taken the psychiatric world by storm and it’s called Ketamine.

Ketamine is also known simply as Special K in the underground club scene and has been used as a hallucinogen by people looking to alter themselves.  It is also an anesthetic and analgesic drug when used in a professional medical setting. 

Ketamine has been used in the party scene for decades, but it wasn’t until recently that doctors and scientists recognized its powerful effects on depression, bipolar, and myriad other mental health issues. According to a study published in Psychiatric News the percentage of Americans 65 years and older, 19 percent of them are taking some form of antidepressant. That number has increased a staggering 400 percent from 30 years ago. 

For reasons not totally understood, about 30 percent of people on antidepressants do not respond to any of the drugs that are out there. That is close to 5 million people in the US, and these same people are often the ones that are most susceptible to serious depression diseases such as bipolar disorder and others. 

It was the mid 90’s when it was discovered that the right amount of Ketamine could be used to curb serious and previously untreatable depressions. People who previously wanted to kill themselves were trying a controlled dose of K in a controlled setting and feeling immediately better. Many were going from wanting to kill themselves to feeling stable and having glimmers of hope after the first session.   

While all this sounds positive and exciting, there are drawbacks some of which may be unknown. For starters, the drug is not yet FDA approved so in order to get it one must go to a private clinic, many of which have popped up across the US, and pay out of pocket. Treatments are expensive costing between $400 and $800 a pop which already rules out this potential lifesaving treatment for anyone without the means. Treatments need to be repeated every few weeks or more to keep the depression from creeping back in, so the addiction argument is quickly growing teeth. As of now the American Psychiatric Association still says Ketamine is not ready to be used as a medication for treatment resistant depression. 

Secondly, without the approval of the FDA, the studies on the long-term effects of ketamine use for depression are simply unknown therefore patients using this drug for depression are all test subjects. That said, many of them don’t mind and will actually take it one step further and say this drug has saved their lives, and that even if there are negative effects down the road Ketamine has given them the opportunity to live life more fully in the meantime.


(Christian Cristiano is an acupuncturist in LA www.AcupuncturebyChristian.comTV host of Wellness for Realists and writes on wellness regularly for CityWatch. Christian can be reached at 310.909.6956 twitter: @CristianoWFR )

-cw