Ketamine and Depression

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine was first discovered in 1956 and was considered an essential aspect of the war for the United States in 1970. This drug was also popularly used for anesthesia, whether it is to induce it to maintain the anesthesia in the middle of the procedure. What makes the anesthesia-induced by Ketamine different from the more traditional approaches is the promotion of a trans-like state, which provides effective pain relief and causes amnesia and sedation to some level.

Moreover, another differentiating feature between Ketamine and other drugs is its ability to preserve the airway and breathing reflexes, meanwhile maintain a stimulated state of the heart and causing a rise in blood pressure. Besides its use for anesthesia and pain relief, recent studies have shown an essential role of
Ketamine in relieving depression and other mental health-related symptoms.

What are the Two Types of Ketamine?

The two forms of Ketamine, which may be used for the treatment of depression include:

1. Racemic Ketamine: This type of Ketamine is most often delivered to the patient in infusion into the bloodstream. Racemic Ketamine is a mixture of R and S Ketamine,
which are two mirror-image molecules of each other. This form of Ketamine may be used for the treatment of depression and has been approved by the FDA for this purpose.

2. Esketamine: Esketamine is a type of Ketamine delivered in the form of a nasal spray. Unlike Racemic Ketamine, Esketamine only uses the S molecule of Ketamine and has been approved by the FDA to treat depression.

The Mechanisms of Action of Ketamine for Depression

Ketamine is able to have a positive effect on the symptom of depression and help individuals throughout their mental heart journey by directly binding to the Serotonin receptors in the body. This is because the low levels of the neurotransmitter Serotonin and in the body are usually associated with the symptoms of depression, and by binding to its receptors, Ketamine is able to promote the production of Dopamine, which brings about a feeling of positivity and relieves the symptoms of depression from an individual.

History of Success of Ketamine for Depression

The successful use of Ketamine for the treatment of depression was previously analyzed in a study conducted on 25 male patients who were all suffering from major depression and were not previously associated with drug use, psychotic disorders, or severe health problems. After making the initial assessment, these men were given Ketamine injections at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg via intravenous bolus. After the first hour of administration of Ketamine, a significant improvement was seen in the feelings of depression and anxiety. Moreover, evaluation at two weeks and one month also seemed to reduce the symptoms of depression significantly. (1)

Another study showed seven individuals who were suffering from major depression to show positive effects from Ketamine use. These individuals were given Ketamine intravenously in a dosage of 0.5mg/kg or saline solution, which acted as the control. The results showed significant improvements in these individuals’ depression symptoms within 72 hours only, compared to placebo use. (2)


Ketamine is an effective drug that can be used for a number of conditions, including mental health purposes and depression. Studies have shown it to induce significant and quick therapeutic effects for depression and are now used more and more popularly in a majority of the countries. Proper administration of Ketamine by a health professional is the most appropriate way to take Ketamine for therapeutic purposes.

1. Mandal S, Sinha VK, Goyal N. Efficacy of ketamine therapy in the treatment of depression.
Indian J Psychiatry. 2019 61(5):480-485. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_484_18
2. Berman RM, Cappiello A, Anand A, Oren DA, Heninger GR, Charney DS, Krystal JH.
Antidepressant effects of Ketamine in depressed patients. Biol Psy

Author Tara Kinney, CRNA, APRN As a lifelong learner with over 10 years of experience working in the operating room, Ms. Kinney began to develop an appreciation for the many uses of ketamine and its applications in therapy. As an independent practitioner and owner-operator of Advantage Anesthesia, Ms. Kinney oversaw the care of countless surgical patients and developed a love for the state of Iowa and surrounding counties. It was while working and living in Bettendorf, Iowa that Ms. Kinney saw the need of the community for more holistic and comprehensive care of chronic pain and mood disorders. Ms. Kinney then attended the Ketamine Academy and joined the American Society of Ketamine Physicians, Psychotherapists, and Practitioners before opening Quad Cities Ketamine Clinic in February of 2020. In her free time, she is an avid volleyball player and state record skydiver. She has two children, loves to scuba dive and golf in tropical locations, and cares for numerous small animals rescued from the humane society.


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