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  • Writer's pictureMegan Vardeman, PA-C

Ketamine: An Effective Option for Treatment Resistant Mental Health Conditions

Updated: Apr 17, 2023

There are approximately 21 million Americans diagnosed with major depression, which represents about 8.4 percent of all U.S. adults.(1) Nearly 800,000 people die every year because of suicide and there are far more suicide attempts every year.(2) It’s clear that mental health issues are plaguing our nation. In addition to more traditional medication approaches, our complementary approaches to addressing mental health concerns include several modalities, such as optimizing nutrition, establishing a healthy gut microbiome, and utilizing supplements. We always tell our patients: “When you give your body what it needs, it can then do what it should.”

Many of our patients come to us because they have tried traditional approaches and still find that they are suffering from significant symptoms. We understand the importance of a strong foundation for health, as well as the need to incorporate novel and specialized treatments in certain, more complex, cases. An important component to this comprehensive and holistic approach includes ketamine infusions.

Ketamine is a well-researched anesthetic agent that has been used safely and effectively to treat a variety of mental health and physical medical conditions. At YWP, we employ its use as adjunctive treatment for treatment-resistant Major Depressive Disorder, depressive phases of Bipolar Disorder, suicidality, severe anxiety disorders, OCD, and PTSD.

Ketamine can open the possibility of symptom relief and solidifying new patterns of thinking, feeling, and responding to daily stressors through multiple effects on the brain. By blocking receptors for glutamate, the most prevalent excitatory signaling chemical in the brain, we observe a subsequent increase in release of glutamate into the space between cells. This has a cascade of effects and ultimately triggers release of brain derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF. BDNF is a key player in neuroplasticity, which helps to restore normal connectivity between key brain regions. The activity of the Default Mode Network (DMN) then dampens and diminishes, which can be felt as a lessening of obsessive and negative thinking. As old stuck patterns begin to loosen up, and new connections form, the brain can transform over time into a healthier baseline state. We follow all ketamine infusions with high-dose Vitamin C intravenously, to support the surge of nerve cell growth and connection formation and enhance ketamine's antidepressant effects.

Research consistently demonstrates improvement in depressive symptoms and suicidal thinking with the first infusion, but these effects are temporary, and a proper schedule of induction and maintenance is necessary to ensure ongoing benefit.

We believe that ketamine infusions are most effective in the context of intentional self-care and an integrative wellness plan that includes psychotherapy and working toward a balanced lifestyle. We provide lifestyle coaching, functional testing, and traditional psychiatry and psychotherapy. We are also available to coordinate with your current prescriber or therapist to ensure a supportive, team-based approach to your treatment. We understand that it can “take a village” to support the self in a way that allows for healing and growth, and we are here to support in your process in any way we can. Reach out to us if you are interested in an approach that focuses on balancing the whole body to find symptom relief.

1. Prevalence of Major Depressive Episode Among Adults. National Institute of Mental Health. (2022, January). Retrieved August 25, 2022, from

2. World Health Organization. (2014). Preventing suicide: A global imperative. World Health Organization.

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