Myths and Facts About Ketamine

From musculoskeletal injuries to life-threatening infections, we have the science and tools necessary to work with your body to restore your health. Issues that involve your brain and nervous system, however, have historically been harder to treat, as there’s still a great deal we don’t understand about the function of these areas. 

We do, however, recognize when a new treatment approach exerts a positive influence on these areas, which is certainly the case with ketamine infusion therapy.

Here at Austin Ketamine Specialists, Dr. Paul Foster and our team have devoted our practice to helping our patients find much-needed relief from serious and difficult physical and mental health issues.

If you’re new to ketamine or you’ve only heard of it in a different context, we wanted to take this opportunity to shed some light on this exciting approach to physical and mental health.

Is ketamine new?

Ketamine dates back to the 1950s to a lab in the Midwest where researchers were searching for an effective analgesic/anesthetic that didn’t create unwanted side effects. What they came up with was ketamine, which was approved by the FDA in 1970, and the drug was immediately put to use on the battlefield in Vietnam and was also available to the public as a prescription.

In the 1980s, opioids took over as the preferred painkiller, and the use of ketamine was greatly reduced. As we’ve come to learn, opioids carry a serious risk of addiction, which has prompted the medical community to take another look at ketamine. 

During this second look at ketamine, doctors quickly discovered that ketamine is not only effective at relieving pain, it also has an antidepressant effect on patients who hadn’t responded to other treatments.

Is ketamine for depression only?

The discovery that ketamine can help patients with serious major depressive disorder prompted the FDA to approve its use for treatment-resistant depression in 2019. Since depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, this breakthrough treatment has been a much-welcome light at the end of this mental health tunnel.

Ketamine is also effective in addressing anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as substance use disorders.

Lastly, ketamine can provide relief for those who suffer from chronic pain syndromes, such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome.

Is ketamine addictive?

While ketamine is a controlled substance, it is far less addictive than opioids, which attach directly to receptors in your brain. Ketamine’s effect on your brain is more complex, as it enables healthier communication networks between neurons.

Does ketamine work quickly?

Unlike antidepressant medications, ketamine works incredibly fast, with patients reporting positive results after just one treatment. In fact, one of the reasons why the FDA approved ketamine for treatment-resistant depression is its ability to act quickly to reverse dangerous depressive episodes.

Do I have to keep taking ketamine?

Also unlike antidepressants, our typical ketamine infusion timeline is just six treatments. Of course, this number depends upon your unique situation, but ketamine isn’t designed to be an ongoing treatment. 

You may benefit from maintenance infusions from time to time (every six months, for example) to encourage the new neural pathways in your brain.

If you have more questions about ketamine, please don’t hesitate to contact our office in Austin, Texas, to set up a consultation.

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