Ketamine is an anesthetic drug that blocks pain, developed in the 1960s and was used to operate on soldiers during the Vietnam War. It has also been used as an animal tranquilizer.

Researchers started studying ketamine as a treatment for depression in 2000. Over the years, their research showed that it improves mood much faster than traditional antidepressant drugs, and it works when some of these drugs have failed.

Ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic for surgery and diagnostic procedures. It’s also used to treat depression, suicidal thoughts.


Ketamine as a depression treatment blocks the NMDA receptor instead of inhibiting the uptake of serotonin/norepinephrine/dopamine, as most antidepressants currently on the market are designed to do.  By blocking this receptor, ketamine allows the brain to begin repairing itself and regulate the chemicals in the brain that cause depression.

Ketamine is indicated for the treatment of severe depression in adults who have not had success with conventional antidepressant medications.

Clinical trials have shown that Ketamine can make a significant, positive impact on symptoms of depression, including suicidal thoughts, in as little as 2-4 weeks.


The FDA recently approved esketamine nasal spray (Spravato), in conjunction with an oral antidepressant, to treat adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) with acute suicidal ideation or behavior.

Esketamine nasal spray is indicated for self-administration under the supervision of a healthcare provider, who is required to monitor the patient for at least two hours following administration in case of sedation or dissociation.

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