How Ketamine Therapy works for Depression NeuConnections November 16, 2023

How Ketamine Therapy works for Depression

How does Ketamine Therapy work for Depression?


Ketamine therapy is a promising treatment for depression that has gained significant attention in recent years. Unlike traditional antidepressant medications, which work by adjusting the levels of neurotransmitters in your brain, ketamine operates on a different pathway, offering a novel approach that can potentially benefit those who haven’t found relief through conventional methods. The need for alternative treatments like ketamine therapy is vital due to the limitations of current therapies, such as delayed onset of action and lack of efficacy for some individuals.

Depression affects millions of people worldwide, and it can have a profound impact on their daily lives. The current standard treatments for depression, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), have limitations in terms of effectiveness and the time it takes to see results. This has led researchers to explore alternative treatment options, and ketamine therapy has emerged as a promising option.

Understanding Depression and the Need for Ketamine Therapy

Depression is a mood disorder characterized by chronic feelings of sadness, loss of interest in activities, and a significant reduction in quality of life. It’s thought to be primarily caused by chronic stress and a loss of communication between brain cells in the prefrontal cortex. Traditional treatments for depression generally involve a combination of medications and psychotherapy. However, these treatments often take weeks or even months to take effect and may not provide relief for everyone. These limitations underscore the need for alternative treatment options, like ketamine therapy.

Ketamine therapy offers a new approach to treating depression by targeting the glutamate system in the brain. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that plays a key role in synaptic plasticity and the regulation of mood. Studies have shown that people with depression have lower levels of glutamate in certain brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex. Ketamine works by increasing the levels of glutamate in the brain, which can help restore normal brain function and alleviate symptoms of depression.

Ketamine Therapy for Depression: Mechanism of Action

Ketamine therapy has been shown to rapidly relieve abnormal behaviors in stressed mice by forming new functional spines in the prefrontal cortex. It achieves this by binding to NMDA receptors, increasing glutamate levels, reducing inflammation, and facilitating communication within the brain. The formation of these new spines correlates with improved behavior in mice, suggesting that enhanced synapse formation and maintenance could contribute to the antidepressant effects of ketamine.

In addition to its effects on glutamate, ketamine also acts on other neurotransmitter systems in the brain, such as serotonin and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are involved in the regulation of mood and emotions, and their dysregulation has been implicated in depression. By modulating the activity of these neurotransmitters, ketamine can help restore balance and alleviate symptoms of depression.

The Process of Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy typically involves a series of infusions over several weeks, followed by occasional booster treatments if symptoms return. During a therapy session, patients may experience a dissociative state or a “trip,” which is then followed by a phase of integration or talk therapy to help process the experience. Patients typically respond to ketamine within one to three infusions, and subsequent sessions may help to prolong the effects. Research is primarily based on a series of six sessions over two to three weeks. This “induction series” tends to have a profound change on patients allowing them to then take a break from ketamine before re-evaluating their needs.

The exact dosage and duration of ketamine therapy can vary depending on the individual and their specific needs. The therapy is usually administered under the supervision of a healthcare professional in a controlled setting to ensure safety and effectiveness. It’s important for patients to follow the recommended treatment plan and attend all scheduled sessions to maximize the benefits of ketamine therapy.

At NeuConnections, we pride ourselves on the safety and efficacy of the treatment we offer. Each session is customized to help our clients achieve the most effective results based on what their symptoms and goals are for their health and wellness.

Effectiveness and Potential Side Effects of Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy has shown powerful effects against depression, rapidly reducing suicidality and relieving symptoms of depression and anxiety. However, it does come with potential short-term side effects, including high blood pressure, nausea, perceptual disturbances, and dissociation.

While dissociation is sometimes seen as a side effect to be treated, we find that safely experiencing dissociation is key in allowing the body to relax and let go of stress and tension that often leads to the inability to achieve a resting state for their healing. We will guide you to utilize this dissociative state to release control, allow yourself to relax, and find a peaceful and clear space for your mind to begin to heal.

Long-term or frequent use of ketamine may have additional side effects, and its potential for addiction should be considered. At NeuConnections, our focus on lasting healing within a short time mitigates the risk of addiction that can come with long-term use or less effective routes of administration (ROA) such as at-home sublingual ketamine. The powerful experiences facilitated by our experienced staff ensure that each session is an experience that can give lasting relief of symptoms and perspective allowing long-term change.

Despite the potential side effects, studies have shown that ketamine therapy can be highly effective in treating depression, especially in individuals who have not responded well to other treatments. In some cases, the effects of ketamine therapy can be seen within hours or days, providing rapid relief for those in acute distress. However, it’s important for clients to be aware of the potential risks and benefits of ketamine therapy and to discuss them with their healthcare provider before starting treatment. Each client at NeuConnections undergoes a medical screening with one of our advanced providers who will discuss your medical and mental health history with you to ensure ketamine therapy is a good fit for each individual.

Costs and Insurance Coverage of Ketamine Therapy

While the FDA has approved a nasal spray called esketamine for adults with treatment-resistant depression, other forms of ketamine are not yet approved for this use. Insurance typically only covers the FDA-approved nasal spray, meaning that the cost of ketamine treatment can be significant without insurance coverage. In some countries, like Australia, strict eligibility conditions exist for ketamine therapy, and it must be used under the supervision of a health professional.

The cost of ketamine therapy can vary depending on factors such as the location, the healthcare provider, and the specific treatment protocol. It’s important for patients to consider the financial implications of ketamine therapy and to explore all available options, including insurance coverage and financial assistance programs. Some healthcare providers may offer payment plans or other arrangements to make ketamine therapy more accessible to those in need.

At NeuConnections, we can accept HSA’s and FSA’s allowing you to use your pre-tax dollars to pay for the treatment. Additionally, we are partnered with Care Credit, the health and wellness credit card to offer deferred interest financing to our clients, making the cost of this therapy more accessible.

Ketamine Therapy vs Other Treatments for Depression

Ketamine therapy offers a potential advantage over traditional treatments due to its rapid onset of action and effectiveness in reducing depression symptoms. While traditional treatments like medications and psychotherapy may take weeks or months to show results, ketamine therapy acts quickly, providing relief in a matter of hours or days. However, the long-term effects of ketamine therapy compared to traditional treatments require further research and exploration.

Research is ongoing to compare the effectiveness of ketamine therapy to other treatment options for depression. Some studies have shown that ketamine therapy may be more effective in individuals with treatment-resistant depression or those who have not responded well to other treatments. However, it’s important to note that in most of the Western medicine space, ketamine therapy is not a first-line treatment for depression and is often only considered when other options have been exhausted or have proven ineffective.


Ketamine therapy has emerged as a promising treatment modality for depression, offering rapid relief for many individuals who have not found success with traditional treatments. Its unique mechanism of action and potential for rapid symptom reduction make it a promising option for those struggling with this debilitating disorder. However, individuals must seek professional help and advice when considering ketamine therapy due to the potential for side effects and the need for careful monitoring during treatment. As research continues, there is hope that the full potential of ketamine therapy for depression will be realized, leading to enhanced treatment options and improved quality of life for those affected around the world.

NeuConnections is proud to be a provider of human-centric and evidence-based ketamine therapy in the the Denver Metro Area. We have seen amazing results with our clients when we pair the amazing combination of ketamine therapy with wellness practices and coaching. Our clinic in Highlands Ranch serves Littleton, Lone Tree, Castle Rock, Centennial, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village, Denver, and more. We are here to help our clients find a new light and build their new connection with life. Please call us at 303-835-2073 or visit our calendar link to schedule a complimentary consultation!

About NeuConnections Ketamine & Wellness Clinic

We are an human-centered space that provides evidence-based care and a leading provider of Ketamine Infusions, IV Infusions, and IV Nutrient Therapy to our clients so that they may achieve lasting results.

We Provide Effective Treatment For The Following Conditions: Major Depressive Disorders, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bipolar Depression, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Chronic Migraines, Severe Anxiety, Migraines, Fibromyalgia and Chronic Pain Syndromes. We also offer IV Nutrient Therapy and NAD+ for you to be your healthiest self.