February 15, 2023

Ketamine Therapy: Fact vs. Myth

Ketamine Therapy: Fact vs. Myth

More and more people are discovering the benefits of ketamine therapy, a form of psychedelic therapy, when it comes to off label treatment of mental health conditions, such as anxiety and depression. Often, these conditions are present together. According to Yale Medicine, around 7% of the US population suffers from a major depressive disorder, and around half of those individuals also suffer from an anxiety disorder. For many of those individuals affected by depression, low self-esteem is the most common symptom—one that ketamine therapy programs can address in some patients.

While medications like Zoloft or Prozac have proven to be effective treatments for depression, the concern is that they can take weeks or even months to produce results. On the other hand, some holistic therapies may offer more immediate relief of symptoms, making it an option for those suffering from trauma disorders such as PTSD, and those going through a life-changing experience. The problem, however, in terms of treating depression with ketamine therapy is the stigma against psychedelic medicine.

Here, we’ll address some of the most egregious myths about ketamine and break down the real science behind this incredible drug, as well as what it’s doing for those suffering from mood disorders and chronic pain.

Dispelling the Myths About Ketamine

Myth: Ketamine is a party drug.

The Facts: Because of the stigma around ketamine, most people tend to think of it as a dangerous and addictive party drug, but there’s certainly more to it than that. While it’s true that it can be addictive if abused, many medical drugs that have been safely prescribed as an on-label treatment for many mental health disorders can also be abused. 

Myth: Ketamine is just a horse tranquilizer.

Although ketamine has been used as an animal tranquilizer due to its safety in use, it has been used in both veterinary and human medicine. As an anesthetic, it has been FDA-approved for use since the ‘70s in operative and surgical procedures. It is also prescribed off-label with therapy programs to help combat mental health struggles, chronic pain disorders like fibromyalgia, and neurological issues like neuropathy.

Myth: Ketamine is dangerous and addictive.

The Facts: When doctors prescribe Ketamine, safety is always paramount. The treatment can be administered by a licensed clinician short-term with the proper dosage, frequency, and protocols.  Ketamine can be prescribed with risk management strategies, provided the patient is monitored effectively and treatments are tailored to the patient's needs. But personalization of treatment is key, and individuals who suffer from other forms of addiction will want to discuss treatment with their doctors. 

Nevertheless, the National Institute of Health found the results associated with the ketamine transfusions in treated patients after a three-month follow-up.

Myth: Ketamine is not FDA-Approved.

The Facts: Ketamine is not just a recreational drug. It is FDA-approved as an anesthetic treatment for diagnostic and surgical purposes. The drug is not FDA-approved for other indications such as mood disorders, but it is administered off-label at the discretion of a licensed doctor.

However, another form of ketamine, called esketamine, is derived from the drug and is a schedule III-controlled substance. It comes in the form of a nasal spray and is the first FDA-approved treatment for patients with a major depressive disorder with suicidal thoughts. It is usually prescribed alongside oral antidepressants for treatment resistant depression. Patients who have been given esketamine are also monitored in a healthcare setting for at least a couple of hours before they are discharged.  Ketamine is often prescribed “off-label” with therapy protocols for several mental health conditions. 

Myth: Ketamine is only prescribed for anesthetics.

The Facts: Although Ketamine has often been used as an anesthetic for years, starting on the battlefield as early as the 1970s, that’s no longer its only medical use.

In modern medicine, more doctors are experimenting with ketamine than ever before, and it’s starting to go mainstream, making it just a matter of time before we have more studies and hopefully FDA-approved usages. Doctors are finding esketamine exceedingly effective in some patients who suffer from treatment-resistant depression – those being patients who have not responded to two or more medications..

Myth: Ketamine is delivered in high doses.

The Facts: As an anesthetic, ketamine is administered in higher doses, but when used to treat off label mental health symptoms specifically, it is given in much lower doses, which is part of the reason many patients find it to be a gentle introduction.

Myth: Ketamine can cause mental illness.

The Facts: The prevalent myth that ketamine use will lead to psychosis is one of the most damaging of all, as it can be medically guided responsibly. The mind alteration typical of ketamine is that it can produce a momentary feeling of dissociation – an out-of-body experience if you will – that passes in time.

The Myth: Ketamine therapy can only be utilized in a medical facility.

The Facts:  No, you don’t have to keep going to the hospital for off label chronic pain or depression treatment. You can find relief from your symptoms in the comfort of your own home.

Better U provides off label ketamine therapy programs at home that can help you achieve the results you are looking for. We provide the self-care tools, psychotherapy and support to help you get through your journey of recovery. Although ketamine therapy is not covered by health insurance at this time, it’s affordable, with pricing as low as $129 per session depending on a treatment plan. Returning clients can get sessions for as low as $100.

How At-Home Ketamine Treatment Works

Interested patients can start by selecting a treatment plan or scheduling a free consultation with a licensed healthcare professional who can address all of your questions and concerns to help evaluate whether ketamine therapy is the right fit for you. After you have expressed your treatment goals, the licensed professional will devise a personalized ketamine treatment plan for you, and their world-class clinical team and highly trained guides will provide support for you every step of the way.

What Patients are Saying

Extensive research in clinical trials and patient feedback have shown how ketamine treatment can be used as part of other therapies for patients suffering from physical pain, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. It has been hypothesized to temporarily quiet a part of the brain called the “default mode network,” possibly allowing you to re-wire your brain, ridding yourself of intrusive, negative thoughts and creating new thought patterns.

“I work in the mental health field and traditional medications didn't seem to be effective—the promise of psychedelic medicine was really exciting to me. After doing these ketamine experiences with Better U, I was scraping away old depression and anxiety that was inside of me for so long that I'd forgotten to pay attention to it. All of a sudden I'm doing these things that I haven't been able to do in a long time, following-up, feeling more confident, and brain is thinking in different ways!” – Dr. James

"I've been weary to try any type of ‘experimental’ drug to treat my anxiety and depression. but a trusted friend recommended that I try ketamine therapy, and after some convincing, I gave it a shot. I can't even begin to describe the positive change in my day-to-day behavior as well as general attitude towards life. This has been a true blessing and I recommend it to anybody who has spoken to a doctor and that is on the fence!" -Stephen 

"I am so grateful that I found Better U Care! It’s honestly been the most effective treatment for depression I have ever tried. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at 9 and the last several years I have felt it becoming more and more treatment resistant. Ketamine therapy really broke through that resistance, and I am on the path toward healing I have been trying to find for so long. It’s more affordable with Better U Care than in clinic treatments and other online services. Every staff member I spoke too was incredibly kind and comforting and helpful. If you have been considering ketamine therapy I would 100% recommend their program." – Elsa 

  1. Federal Drug Administration. “FDA alerts health care professionals of potential risks associated with compounded ketamine nasal spray.” (16 February 2022). https://www.fda.gov/drugs/human-drug-compounding/fda-alerts-health-care-professionals-potential-risks-associated-compounded-ketamine-nasal-spray
  2. Hamilton, Jon. “Smiling faces might help the drug ketamine keep depression at bay.” (31 October 2022). NPR. https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2022/10/31/1132371480/smiling-faces-might-help-the-drug-ketamine-keep-depression-at-bay
  3. MacMillan, Carrie. “Should You Be Screened for Anxiety?” (23 September 2022). Yale Medicine. https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/stress-anxiety-depression#:~:text=At%20any%20one%20time%2C%20%E2%80%9Cabout,psychiatrist%20at%20Yale%20Psychiatric%20Hospital
  1. National Institutes of Health. “Side effects mild, brief with single antidepressant dose of intravenous ketamine.” (15 November 2019). https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/side-effects-mild-brief-single-antidepressant-dose-intravenous-ketamine
  1. Robert C. Meisner, MD. “Ketamine for major depression: New tool, new questions.” (22 May 2019). Harvard Health Blog. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/ketamine-for-major-depression-new-tool-new-questions-2019052216673

**Ketamine is a Schedule III medication that has been used safely as an anesthetic and analgesic since it was FDA-approved in 1970 solely as an anesthetic. It is not FDA approved for mental health conditions. It is increasingly prescribed “off-label” for the treatment of anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other indications. Off-label prescribing is both legal and common. One study shows that about one in five prescriptions is written for off-label use.  Sessions are done once or twice a week short-term, and not everyone is a candidate for our Psychedelic Therapy program(s).

For additional important safety information, please click here