Ketamine Under the Lens: An Update

The Results We Have Seen from Ketamine Therapy at the Practice


If you have followed my blog recently, you may have come across some of my observations about Ketamine, a drug used as a sedative (and sometimes abused as a club drug known as “Special K”,) but that is now being used to help patients with severe depression.  One quality that sets Ketamine apart is the discovery that it can help patients with severe or chronic depression that previously have not responded to standard anti-depressant medications (“treatment-resistant” patients.).  Other benefits of Ketamine are that it has extremely limited risks and side effects, and that it can be administered in an office setting.  In my practice, I have had extremely good results treating patients with Ketamine for the past several years.

Several highly respected medical centers, including Yale, UCSD, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic offer Ketamine-based treatments.  The science writer Sara Solovitch of the Washington Post recently referred to Ketamine-based therapy as the “most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century.”  While the benefits of Ketamine have been demonstrated for many patients, as is almost always the case, it is not beneficial for everyone.

Scientific Effects of Ketamine on Depression

Timothy Lineberry, M.D., a Mayo Clinic Psychiatrist who has studied the effects of Ketamine on depression notes “It’s surprising both that it works and how rapidly it has effects”. Another Mayo Clinic researcher, Susannah Tye, Ph.D., has investigated the neurobiological basis for Ketamine’s success with treating depression.  She found that Ketamine can restore mammalian protein target functionality, along with inhibiting a process called glycogen synthase that is associated with mood regulation.  Colleen Loo, publishing in the Medical Journal of Australia, summarizes the findings of a study of Ketamine on 200 patients, noting “robust antidepressant effects after a single dose of sub-anesthetic Ketamine.”

While longitudinal NIMH studies of the effectiveness of Ketamine are ongoing, there have been meta studies (scientific reviews from multiple studies) performed that indicate that even a single dose of Ketamine can have relatively long-lasting (up to 6 days) positive effects.

Ketamine May Address Problems that Other Anti-Depressants Do Not

Unlike other anti-depressant medications that work on the monoaminergic (serotonin, noradrenaline) systems, Ketamine addresses imbalances in the body’s glutamate signaling system.   Some researchers have noted that an imbalance in two amino acid transmitters—GABAergic and glutamatergic—may lie at the source of depression, a problem that is potentially addressed by Ketamine therapy.

Ketamine may also be an exciting new tool in combating the epidemic of suicide.  With over 40,000 episodes in the U.S, annually, the ability of Ketamine to control major depression may be a ray of hope in this area. For patients who have become increasingly desperate to find a way to manage their depression, Ketamine is a compelling option to explore.

If you would like to discuss whether Ketamine treatment might be a viable option for treating your depression, or to discuss any other mental health challenges, please call me at (917) 609-4990 or email me at for general questions.

Be Well,

Dr. Amanda Itzkoff


Dr. Amanda Itzkoff

My name is Amanda Itzkoff, MD. I am a New York City based Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

For additional information, please feel free to email our office at

To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.

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