What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a well-researched, dissociative anesthetic that was approved by the FDA in 1970. Since then, ketamine has been used extensively for pediatric and adult treatment in surgery, emergency departments, ambulances, trauma medicine, and war zones. It is a commonly used medication in veterinary medicine. The World Health Organization lists ketamine as one of the most essential medications due to its therapeutic effects and wide margin of safety.
Over the last decade, Yale University and the National Institutes of Health identified additional benefits of ketamine in the treatment of mood disorders and chronic pain. The use of ketamine for depression has been named “the biggest discovery in mental health in decades.”
Ketamine has been shown to stimulate neuron growth in the brain in as quickly as one hour. Many scientists studying ketamine are focusing on the neurotransmitter glutamate, which plays an important role in neural activation.
Ketamine treatment is an intravenous infusion procedure performed in a specially-equipped medical office by a member of the Revitalist Team, a Certified Registered Nurse Anesthesiologist (CRNA).
The National Institute of Mental Health has been studying ketamine’s effect on depression for more than fifteen years. There is scholarly research behind this treatment, which means controlled, double-blind, peer-reviewed studies at major institutions.
Researchers at Yale pioneered this research nearly 20 years ago and published the first major study in 2000. Since then, countless more ketamine studies have been conducted at Yale and other major institutions including NIH, The VA, Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Mt. Sinai Medical School, Oxford University, and many more around the world.
More than 70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression (including bipolar patients) experience rapid relief after a low-dose ketamine infusion. Similar success rates have been seen in returning combat veterans suffering from PTSD.
These patients’ cases are the worst of the worst, lasting years or even decades, and have not responded to any other treatments. Many have hovered on the verge of suicide for years, many have actually attempted suicide, and all have endured a very poor quality of life. Before ketamine therapy, there was virtually no way to substantially improve the condition of patients like these.
The fact that ketamine works rapidly on more than 70% of them is astonishing, and its discovery has profoundly changed depression research and our understanding of the very nature of depression. It’s important to keep in mind, however, that the degree of relief can vary among patients.
Some sufferers get only partial relief, some do not get relief until completion of the infusion series, and some do not respond to ketamine at all. Some patients have additional medical conditions and/or take outside prescribed medications that can reduce its effectiveness.
You will be awake. The ketamine infusion dosage is not high enough to cause you to fall asleep, but you may feel a bit drowsy during and shortly after the treatment.
There are medications and drugs, both legal and illicit, that will reduce the effectiveness of ketamine. Please be sure to inform us all of medications and supplements you take. We will work with your prescribing provider in coordinating your care.
Length of treatment is individual to each patient and can vary a great deal. Most patients respond to ketamine within their initiation series. This means relief of the physical symptoms that make depression/anxiety/PTSD/pain so unbearable: anhedonia, physical fatigue, dysphoria, cognitive impairment, insomnia, etc.
But there’s more to it than that. When the physical symptoms are relieved, that can also trigger a dramatic improvement in mood. It can help patients feel healthy, function normally, and stop feeling negative about themselves, sometimes for the first time in decades.
Even if the physical symptoms begin to return, many patients find they can withstand them with more resilience than before, instead of retreating to the fetal position each time a new stress or obstacle arises. This improvement in mood and function can last longer than the physical symptom relief.
The most commonly reported side effects include mild nausea, drowsiness, and a temporary increase in blood pressure. The Revitalist staff will closely monitor your blood pressure and heart rate throughout the course of the infusion.
During the treatment, you will experience something called a dissociative effect. Most patients describe the experience with words like relaxing, floating, and pleasant. This “dream-like” state quickly subsides after the treatment is over, allowing you to leave with your driver after your appointment is complete.
Ketamine is typically well-tolerated and we are not aware of any significant adverse reactions at the low-dose used for this treatment. At the higher doses used in operating rooms, ketamine has been known to cause hallucinations, as well as other cognitive distortions. Use of ketamine by people with conditions such as unstable heart disease risk aggravating these conditions. It is of utmost importance that you fill out the medical questionnaire fully and truthfully, so we can properly evaluate whether you are medically appropriate for the treatment.
When ketamine is administered in a controlled medical setting by a properly trained provider using established methods, it is very safe. Ketamine is the only anesthetic that does not suppress the body’s cardiovascular and respiratory systems. It does have the potential to elevate heart rate and blood pressure, so the patient’s vitals must be monitored during treatment.
Using illegally-obtained ketamine on your own, without a doctor’s supervision, is a different matter. There’s no assurance the substance you’re taking is actually ketamine at all, or that it hasn’t been mixed with other substances. And since ketamine is an anesthetic capable of sedating patients during major surgery, you can seriously injure yourself while under its influence if you are not in a controlled medical setting. If you are contemplating taking “street” ketamine in hopes of relieving your depression, keep in mind that the antidepressant effect depends on it being administered in a very precise, controlled way that you cannot achieve in a recreational setting.
Although ketamine itself is not typically covered by insurance, other services during your visit may still be billable.
- In Tennessee, Revitalist is currently accepting the following insurance plans:
- Palmetto Medicare (excluding Medicaid plans)
- BlueCross BlueShield TN (excluding BlueCare plans)
- United Healthcare (excluding Community Plans)
Revitalist is also able to file with most other plans we are not in network with; however, you should contact your insurance provider to find your out-of-network coverage. Out of Network coverage typically pays less toward your treatment plan.
Yes. Refer a new patient that proceeds with treatment and receive a one-time 10% off any wellness service, including vitamin infusion, acupuncture, or massage.
We prescribe and administer esketamine (Spravato) within our clinic according to the FDA guidelines. We do not prescribe any ketamine for outside or home use.
Revitalist recommends ketamine infusions due to the abundance of research demonstrating the effectiveness in managing the symptoms of depression, suicidal ideations, anxiety, trauma, or pain syndromes. As there is a lack of lasting or substantial benefits in the administration of ketamine via the intramuscular route, Revitalist does not give ketamine this way.
The Revitalist Provider Portal allows your doctor to easily, and with much attention to privacy, refer you for consultation. Should you receive treatment, we will communicate with your existing provider(s) regarding your care.