Real Stories of Using Ketamine for Depression, Anxiety, PTSD

The anesthetic ketamine has skyrocketed in popularity as a fast, effective, often expensive treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more. Here, readers share their experiences.

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For decades, ketamine was known best as an anesthetic, used in hospitals worldwide. In the 1990s, it became a popular club drug known by the street name Special K. Now it’s enjoying newfound fame as a revolutionary treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions.

The first research on ketamine’s potential as a fast, effective antidepressant was published in 2006. Six years later, the first ketamine clinic opened, offering intravenous infusions of the dissociative agent, paired with therapy administered before and after. There are now hundreds of such clinics across the country, and many at-home treatment companies that will deliver ketamine lozenges directly to your doorstep.

Experts stress the importance of more large-scale, long-term research on ketamine. However, since the drug is FDA-approved as an anesthetic, it is legal to use it off-label for depression and other mental health conditions. And though ketamine can be costly, the rapid relief many people experience from conditions like treatment-resistant depression and suicidality is worth the price, they say.

We asked our readers to share details of their experiences with ketamine for mental health challenges. Here’s what they told us:

“My psychiatrist recommended ketamine in 2021, when I was acutely suicidal. It was the best drug that I have ever used for the treatment of depression. After about 9 infusions, I stopped taking antidepressants, which I had been using for 16 years. I have not had any negative effects of the drug itself. Ketamine has changed my life.” —Karlyn, South Africa

[Download: 6 Unexpected Signs of Depression]

“I run a ketamine clinic for transgender/neurodivergent patients and recommend psychedelic integration therapy together with ketamine. It is absolutely helpful for the right person. It worked for me.” —Pippi, Utah

“At first, my psychiatrist offered one-off IV ketamine treatments as a stop-gap measure for patients with treatment-resistant depression who likely would have checked themselves into a psychiatric hospital. Later, he began offering weekly ketamine therapy. Both have helped me immensely with depression and anxiety; though this wasn’t targeted by my psychiatrist, my ADHD symptoms have begun to improve as well.—Bob, Arizona

“I took ketamine through Mindbloom for C-PTSD, depression, and suicidal ideation. It helped massively in changing my mindset, helping me know that I’m not a bad person and I don’t deserve the mistreatment I’ve received, that I’m struggling because my environment is not conducive to success and not because I’m doing something wrong.” —Mia, Texas

[Read: A Playbook for Post-Traumatic Growth]

“My partner has had ketamine treatments done. They were very intense and seemed to really open up all these walls he had put up that were preventing him from growing and healing. However, it did not help as long as it could have because he did not receive the proportionate therapy. Neuroplasticity is real, but if you’re not working through the emotional barriers that held you back, you will likely sink back to where you were.” —Lena, Florida

This has been life-changing for my friend who used to call me all of the time in tears from some emotional drama or another. I used to have to talk her off a cliff, now we just talk like healthy people.” —Beth, Colorado

Ketamine & Treatment for Depression: Next Steps

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