KANSAS CITY, Mo. —Thousands of people in the U.S. live with depression, but when medication just isn’t enough, some psychiatrists are turning to ketamine to give their patients relief. 

Originally used as an anesthetic, IV ketamine treatments are now being used to care for people with treatment-resistant depression. 

“We know that IV ketamine treatments have been done all across the country for patients with treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD pretty extensively for over 10 years,” Dr. Irfan Handoo, with Interpersonal Psychiatry, said. 

For patients like Esther Sparks, who was first diagnosed with depression when she was 13-years-old, the therapy has been life changing. 

“It truly saved my life. I went from not being able to work, now I’m training for a half marathon. It’s just a night and day difference,” Sparks said.  

Sparks began ketamine treatment last summer, taking the IV treatment once a week for about six weeks. 

 “I felt a difference after the first treatment. I literally woke up the next morning dancing. I felt like myself again and I hadn’t felt that way in decades,” Sparks said.

Sparks hasn’t had any additional treatments in the last eight months and said she’s still feeling great. 

“It works in a way that is totally different than traditional antidepressants. By blocking NMDA receptors and activating glutamate it helps to rebuild neuronal connections in the brain. That’s how IV ketamine works and that why for many patients the benefits can last for many years,” Handoo said.  

Since 2016, Handoo has treated more than 1,000 patients with drug-resistant depression using ketamine. 

“Even though IV ketamine treatments are not FDA approved for treatment-resistant depression, out of everything I’ve honestly done in my life and my practice, I’ve seen some of the most amazing long-term success and long-term results with this,” Handoo said.  

Ketamine treatments are available for only for patients who have a medical history of being resistant to two or more depression prescriptions. Anyone interested in learning more about ketamine treatments can find additional information on Dr. Handoo’s website.

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