Am I a Candidate for Ketamine?

Mar 14, 2023
Am I a Candidate for Ketamine?
Ketamine is emerging as an effective treatment for many chronic medical issues, including mood disorders like depression and anxiety. Still, it’s not a good choice for everyone. Here’s how to tell if it might be right for you.

Long used as an anesthetic, the current use of ketamine is as a medication for people with certain medical conditions, including treatment-resistant depression and anxiety. But being diagnosed with one of these conditions is just part of what makes you a suitable candidate.

As a leading psychiatry practice in Beverly Hills, California, MindMD offers various therapy services, including ketamine therapy. In this post, our team reviews the mechanism of action behind ketamine and how to tell if ketamine therapy might be appropriate for you.

How ketamine works

Ketamine acts on glutamate, a neurotransmitter that plays a role in mood regulation, which differs from antidepressant medications focused mainly on serotonin or dopamine, two other neurotransmitters involved in depression and anxiety.

Its exact mechanism of action in treating mood disorders isn’t understood; researchers believe ketamine improves nerve-to-nerve communication in your brain, which may reduce abnormal nerve signal activity associated with anxiety, depression, and other mood disorders. Research also indicates ketamine may promote the development of new nerve pathways or synapses, optimizing how nerves communicate and interact.

Another big difference between antidepressant medication and ketamine is — ketamine must be administered by a medical professional, either as an infusion through an IV needle or a nasal spray. While it’s common to experience benefits after a single treatment, most patients benefit from a series of treatments followed by ongoing maintenance.

Best candidates for ketamine

Ketamine is a treatment for people who have treatment-resistant depression — a depression that hasn’t responded to traditional therapies, including antidepressant medications. It’s also widely used for people who have anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and have not responded to other types of treatment.

Because ketamine works quickly, it can be a good choice for people whose depression or anxiety symptoms are overwhelming and interfering with their daily lives. For those with suicidal thoughts, ketamine can also be a choice as therapy.

While ketamine is very effective in treating these problems, having one of these conditions doesn’t always mean you’re a good candidate for the therapy. You may not be a good candidate if you have underlying medical conditions like heart disease, thyroid disease, or uncontrolled hypertension. That’s because ketamine increases blood pressure and heart rate, making it potentially risky for people with these conditions. 

It’s important to note that ketamine can cause mild hallucinations during administration. While these effects are temporary and go away when your infusion period ends, they can still be unsettling. Your provider should consider these matters.

Learn more about ketamine

The only way to know for sure if ketamine is right for you is to talk with a member of our team, so we can review your medical history and consider other factors. As noted earlier, ketamine is not a first-line therapy; we administer it only when other forms of therapy don’t work effectively.

If you’d like to learn more about ketamine therapy and whether it can help you manage your symptoms, call 424-307-9504 or book an appointment online with MindMD today.