Ketamine is a derivative of phencyclidine. It is an anesthetic drug that was first developed in 1962. Ketamine has a history of being used in general anesthesia for more than 30 years and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic and has an incredibly safe track record in clinical settings. Ketamine is also commonly used to treat nerve related pain in Emergency Rooms and Outpatient Centers.
Most recently, researchers have consistently found that low doses of ketamine infusions produce a rapid anti-depressant effect, leading to excitement for it being new treatment option for mental health disorders.
Ongoing research is still figuring out the many ways in which Ketamine affects the brain, but scientists agree that by blocking the NMDA receptors, ketamine infusion treatments prompt the brain to increase the production of synaptic signaling proteins, Glutamate, in the prefrontal cortex. The prefrontal cortex is known to have a crucial role in a person’s ability to regulate their mood.
FMRI brain scans have shown Ketamine also promotes the growth of new synapses in the prefrontal cortex, resulting in greater connectivity in the brain, while also switching certain connections on and off. This combination of events is thought to be the main reason for the rapid anti-depressant effect.
Ketamine was first used as anesthetic in the Vietnam war. Since then, it has been widely used in medical procedures across the world. It is currently used by approximately 80% of anesthesiologists in their practice. Our FNP PMHNP Nora Finnegan can personally attest that in the 1000+ ketamine infusions she has performed, that she has never encountered a serious medical issue.
Unlike other psychiatric medications it typically has no lasting side effects 24 hours past the treatment and usually only produces a drowsiness and fatigue for a short period of time. While Ketamine has shown to occasionally cause bladder issues for chronic users, it is typically from higher doses than what New Pathways offers.
Despite Ketamine’s effectiveness in treating mental health conditions, it is not an FDA approved treatment. Largely because it was developed as an anesthetic. Like many medical discoveries, its effectiveness in treating mental health was stumbled upon just as it was for treating certain pain conditions. In the 1970’s it was discovered that patients with chronic pain, reported it completely disappearing after surgeries where ketamine was used.
As ketamine began to be a commonly used in for pain, reports of it eliminating depression also occurred. The scientific literature over the past 15 years is just starting to fully show the promise of Ketamine as a mental health treatment. As a generic drug that has outlived its patent, there is no financial incentive for pharmaceutical companies to pay tens of millions of dollars to fund an FDA approved trial.
Ketamine infusions are a medical procedure provided by medical professionals. They are administered intravenously (IV), over the course of 45-60 minutes, in a controlled and comfortable environment. Most patients report a relaxing experience during the treatment.
Research and Nora Finnegan’s personal experience from performing over a thousand ketamine infusions have found that common short-term side effects are tiredness, confusion, dizziness and nausea that last no longer than the day of the treatment. Less commonly, patients can experience headaches, anxiety, and a prolonged dissociative state beyond the treatment.
Yes, Ketamine is listed as a schedule III substance from the DEA. “Schedule III drugs, substances, or chemicals are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence” (DEA) This also means that Ketamine’s use without a prescription from a medical professional is illegal.
With Nora Finnegan’s extensive history in dealing with insurance companies for Ketamine infusions, we will always do our best to maximize your insurances coverage for the treatments. All you have to do is provide your health insurance card and our software will do the rest! Based on her experience, we know most patients will have a majority of the costs covered.
Insurance coverage varies from patient to patient even if they have the same health insurance company. Because Ketamine is not an FDA approved treatment for mental health and pain conditions, we cannot guarantee that you will be covered 100%.
As an independently operated clinic, please understand that we require upfront payment for Co-pays, Co-insurance, Deductibles, and out-of-pocket costs. HSA/FSA Cards, Credit Cards, Debit Cards, Money Orders, or patient financing with Advanced Care are all acceptable forms of payment.
See our Insurance and Payments Page for more details.
When many physicians or patients hear about or experience treatment-resistant disorders, they consider resorting to Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT).
Recently, patients and clinicians are realizing that ketamine infusion treatments are a less invasive and less expensive alternative for treatment-resistant conditions. Additionally, Ketamine infusions have been found to be effective in 60% of patients for whom ECT was not effective!
Following weeks of ECT treatments under general anesthesia, patients are often placed on one to several specific antidepressant medications and can experience lapses in memory and cognition. Ketamine infusions offers a simpler treatment with less side effects and should always be considered as an option prior to undergoing ECT.
Ketamine is not chemically addictive like some other psychiatric medications are. There are reports of recreational users being psychologically addicted to Ketamine. However, given in a medical setting at infrequent intervals there is little risk of psychological addiction. In fact, Ketamine has been shown to help with cravings and withdrawal symptoms of other chemically addictive substances (Link to Substance Abuse)
For some patients Ketamine Infusions are a temporary treatment to help them break free of patterns of suffering and to set them on the path to mental wellness. More commonly our patients find value in continuing Ketamine treatments at some frequency, as a reliable adjunct to their psychiatric treatments. Many of our patients continue to get a single booster infusion every 1 to 6 months, to maintain maximum relief of symptoms.
Our typical patient is between the ages of 18-70 years old. We can only treat patients under the age of 18 if two separate pediatric psychiatrists and our psychiatrist agree it is appropriate. For patients over the age of 70, we take extra precautions to ensure the patient is physically healthy enough to start treatment.