Ketamine is an unusual type of psychedelic drug — referred to as a dissociative — that has been used in hospitals and clinics as an anesthetic for decades. It is now approved for treatment-resistant depression (TRD), including for people with suicidal thoughts, but a much lower dose of ketamine is given for depression compared with anesthesia.
According to the Yale School of medicine, when administered correctly and under the supervision of a professional, ketamine can be a life-changing treatment for major depression.
Experts in pain management and psychiatry do have some general recommendations for maintaining the safety of ketamine infusion treatment. For example, it is strongly recommended that professional ketamine providers should have the following qualifications:
- Ability to manage cardiovascular events, which may occur even at a low dose of the drug
- Certification in Advanced cardiovascular Life Support (ACLS)
- Can recognize mental status changes during ketamine infusion therapy and manage them accordingly
- Can accurately assess suicide risk when providing ketamine for mental health
- Has the necessary experience in administering ketamine IV infusion safely
- Knows when and how to titrate the medication
- Ability to provide timely follow-up patient evaluations as needed
Although promising and safe when used correctly, Harvard Health Publishing states that like with most new treatment applications, more in depth research should be undertaken on the longer-term benefits and side effects of ketamine treatment, and on its safety and effectiveness.