Ketamine is an alternative treatment for anxiety, depression, PTSD, and substance use. It works by quickly increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter glutamate in the frontal cortex of the brain, while also allowing new synapses to form in the same area. The speediness of ketamine in producing an antidepressant effect occurs because this drug bypasses the traditional serotonin pathway and goes directly to activating glutamate. It also works on existing newly born neurons that already exist in your brain rather than waiting for the new neurons to be generated.
This is very different from traditional antidepressants, which first increase the activity of serotonin in multiple different areas of the brain, and then ultimately affect glutamate. This process usually takes two to four weeks to take effect, while ketamine brings an almost immediate effect.
Many patients report a feeling of their mind being “reset” or “rebooted”. A recent study followed patients treated regularly with the same dose of Ketamine for four years. The effect of ketamine did not fade with time, and no significant side effects were reported. The effect lasts longer when combined with psychotherapy. Now with the abundance of research supporting the efficacy of ketamine-assisted therapy for various mental health conditions, more and more clinicians are providing ketamine as a mental health treatment.