Ketamine directly targets your brain, where it works as an NMDA receptor antagonist. That means it blocks glutamate receptors. Glutamate transmits pain signals and regulates psychological conditions like depression and anxiety.
When the receptors are blocked, a cascade of chemical reactions occurs that relieve pain and improve mental health conditions. Your pain is eased as ketamine changes the way your central nervous system processes pain signals.
An initial boost in glutamate levels may be why ketamine produces quick results. For many patients, depression improves within a few hours or during their first few ketamine treatments. By comparison, antidepressants take weeks to months to work, if they work at all.
You also get long-lasting results because ketamine triggers new and stronger connections between neurons. As new neural pathways develop, your brain becomes more adaptable.