More and more people struggling with depression are looking to ketamine treatment for relief. This relatively new antidepressant is proving to be astoundingly effective for treatment-resistant depression, having the potential to offer lasting relief and create meaningful change in the brain.
Only one form of ketamine is FDA-approved: Spravato, an esketamine nasal spray. There isn’t much of a difference between Spravato and traditional ketamine. The substance consists of two mirror-image molecules, “R” and “S” ketamine. Standard ketamine is listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines, but it is considered a generic medicine that can’t be patented, Janssen Pharmaceuticals isolated the “S” molecule and created an esketamine nasal spray, which they branded as Spravato.
With FDA approval, Spravato can be strictly regulated. There are standard doses and procedures for administering this depression treatment, so patients can be assured that they’re getting the same procedure no matter where they go. However, some studies suggest that traditional ketamine infusions are more effective for treating depression than the nasal spray. Licensed professionals can legally administer ketamine infusions, and infusions of off-label generic ketamine are becoming more accessible in mental health treatment centers and ketamine clinics across the country.
Ketamine infusions are quite literally life-changing for many people with treatment-resistant depression, and there is growing evidence that the medication is effective in treating conditions like PTSD and OCD as well. While the treatment is well worth it, ketamine infusions are far from cheap, and unlike Spravato, aren’t as heavily regulated. Many clinics that offer ketamine treatment are making overzealous claims about ketamine and don’t follow best practices when it comes to dosage and frequency of infusions. If you’re thinking about starting ketamine treatment, it’s important to find a clinic that’s reputable to ensure that your therapy is both safe and effective.
What to Look For in a Ketamine Clinic
- The clinic has mental health professionals among their staff
The focus of ketamine treatment should be recovery and your personal mental wellbeing. The clinic’s staff should consist of medical experts like psychiatrists, therapists, and nurse practitioners. You should be able to talk to someone who is familiar with the condition that you’re dealing with. The goal of the clinic’s staff should be to help you recover, not to just give you a medicine and send you on your way.
- The clinic’s focus is on mental health or ketamine
Just as you don’t want a 5-in-1 shampoo, you don’t want a 5-in-1 ketamine clinic. If a clinic offers a variety of services like vitamin infusions, botox, and also ketamine, that’s a huge red flag. Make sure the clinic is dedicated to ketamine or is a mental health treatment center.
- The clinic is honest about ketamine treatment
Pay attention to how the center describes ketamine. A trustworthy clinic will be honest about the limitations and risks associated with ketamine treatment. If the center promises to heal you — another huge red flag. A reputable clinic will discuss your specific situation and help you figure out if ketamine is a good option for you. A holistic treatment center will also offer other treatment options that may be better or supplementary to the ketamine treatment.
- The treatment is holistic, not cookie-cutter
As we mentioned before, the clinic’s goal should be to help you recover and find relief. Look for a clinic that offers personalized, holistic treatment plans. Ideally, they will offer additional treatment options and therapies to augment the ketamine infusions. They should regularly check in with you to see how the treatment is going, and offer aftercare such as wellness checkups and the ability to schedule “booster” infusions.
- The screening process is thorough
Always avoid ketamine clinics with minimal or no screening process. A reputable clinic will require a referral from a psychiatrist or a preliminary diagnosis from a medical professional before starting treatment. Make sure you have a consultation with a staff member to talk about your medical history and your mental health goals to determine if ketamine is appropriate and create an effective treatment plan.