Ketamine

KETAMINE TREATMENT OVERVIEW

Ketamine is a decades-old medication that has recently experienced a resurgence of use in psychiatry. It is considered by many to be revolutionary to the understanding and treatment of depression.  

Importantly, ketamine has been extensively studied and found to be uniquely helpful for:

  1. rapid (albeit often transient) symptom relief; and
  2. treating clinical depression in individuals who have not responded to other interventions (with what is called “treatment resistant depression”).  

Ketamine is often uniquely powerful in helping with a particularly dangerous symptom: suicidal ideation. The primary reason for giving ketamine in psychiatry is for treatment-resistant depression.

DR. MACDONALD’S EXPERIENCE WITH KETAMINE

Dr. MacDonald’s first experience with ketamine was in 2013, when he supervised IV administration of ketamine to a person with severe depression at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).  Along with a colleague, he wrote a protocol for IV ketamine use and presented a small study of IV ketamine that year at a scientific conference.

Though he has been keenly interested in and involved with ketamine since 2013, Dr. MacDonald has chosen to wait until a critical mass of safety and real-world clinic experience with ketamine [see KETAMINE RESEARCH tab] has accumulated to routinely offer ketamine to patients in his practice. This is because a true understanding of benefits and safety of different medical interventions often proceeds slowly, and excitement about a new treatment needs to be balanced with an appreciation of risks and benefits.

Your initial ketamine treatment will take place in the office with monitoring and support, and your ongoing treatment plan will be individualized to your particular situation, once we discuss different options. Consistent with Dr. MacDonald’s overall practice philosophy, ketamine treatment is offered as part of an individualized, whole-person treatment plan, which includes a thorough evaluation, individualized psychotherapy, lifestyle interventions, and standard oral medications.  

HOW IS DR. MACDONALD UNIQUELY QUALIFIED FOR KETAMINE TREATMENT?

Dr. MacDonald has years of experience treating patients with ketamine, and is uniquely qualified for this particular treatment, given his board certification in psychiatry and addiction medicine, years of psychotherapy training and medication management experience. Moreover, Dr. MacDonald graduated from a combined family medicine-psychiatry program, and therefore has unique training in medical issues like chronic pain.  Dr. MacDonald is the medical director of an addiction treatment program, and is very aware of the risks of medication overuse and addiction.

For more information about ketamine treatment, see “Ketamine: Common Questions.”