How Does Ketamine Work?

Wheras most traditional antidepressants focus on the neurotransmitters serotonin and norepinephrine, ketamine focuses on the neurotransmitter glutamate, which plays a key role in neural activation and repair. Ketamine has also been found to be a strong anti-inflammatory, which may largely be responsible for its ability to improve chronic pain. 

Is Ketamine Treatment Safe?

Yes! Ketamine has been an FDA approved drug for about 50-years as an anesthetic and analgesic medication and is routinely used in operating rooms and emergency departments every day. This means that if you've ever had any kind of surgical procedure,  ever had a bone set, or stitches in the ER, you've probably already been treated with ketamine! In the right hands, ketamine is a very safe medication. Lately it's been discovered that in tiny doses,  ketamine rapidly alleviates symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and some chronic pain in about  70% of patients, possibly more.  In fact, for chronic pain, it can provide relief for up to 6-months.

However, while ketamine can be highly-effective for the treatment of depression and chronic pain, it has not yet been approved by the FDA for these uses, although it is legal and growing in popularity ever day.  A very similar drug, ESKETAMINE has recently been approved for these purposes in the form of a nasal spray. When administered by a qualified clinician, ketamine is highly effective and rapid-acting.

Could I Become Addicted to Ketamine?

Contrary to popular belief, ketamine is not a physically addicting substance. When abused at higher doses in a recreational setting, it can become psychologically addicting. When administered for depression treatment or chronic pain management, it is used in much smaller doses than what would be needed to achieve a recreational “high.” The chances that a patient would become psychologically addicted to ketamine are very slim. However, Promise Medical takes the risk of addiction seriously. We screen all patients prior to their first treatment to assess their potential for addiction and/or abuse. 

How Do I Get Started? What Should I Expect During My First Treatment?

The first step is to determine if you are a candidate for ketamine therapy. If you are not already a patient of Promise Medical, this, along with a basic physical, medical history, and depression/anxiety/pain evaluation is usually done during a consultation exam. If there are no contra-indications, we will help you schedule an appointment for your first treatment. 

A treatment consists of an intramuscular injection, usually in the hip or backside. Many ketamine clinics start an IV and infuse it into a vein over 20-30 minutes, but we have opted to eliminate problems caused by trying to start an IV, and simply give it in a muscle, which is equally as effective. You can then relax as ketamine takes effect. You can lie down, listen to music, or watch a movie on your phone. People off feel very "goofy", "dizzy", or even "on another planet" for about 20 minutes. Your vital signs will be monitored throughout the procedure. Ketamine wears off in about 20-30 minutes and then most patients start to experience a drastic improvement in mood and decrease in anxiety and pain symptoms. At this time, if you would like, you may receive a second injection at no extra charge. This is 1 treatment.

On the day of your first treatment, please follow these instructions:

  • Don’t eat anything for 6-hours prior to your treatment. 

  • Please arrange for a ride home. You should not drive, operate heavy equipment, or make important decisions for the rest of the day. 

  • You must refrain from alcohol or other sedating substances for 6 hours prior to, and 6 hours after treatment. 

  • Most regular medications should be continued. Talk to the provider before to go over medications and medical history.


After your ketamine treatment, your vital signs will be monitored for another 30-minutes before releasing you into the care of a friend or family member. YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DRIVE OR OPERATE MACHINERY FOR 24-HOURS POST TREATMENT!

Will Ketamine Treatment Work For Me?

Ketamine is an extremely effective antidepressant for about 70% of patients, possibly as much as 90%. Because traditional antidepressants (SSRI's, SNRI's, etc) are able to alleviate symptoms in only about 30-40% of patients, this makes ketamine therapy a truly remarkable option for many people. Remember that every patient experiences the effects of ketamine differently. Some patients may feel an immediate improvement of their symptoms, while others experience a slow and steady improvement. 

Can I Continue Using My Other Medications?

Most of your medication should be continued, but never discontinue the use of any medication without talking to your provider first. During your initial consultation, we will review your medication list and determine any contraindications.

How Many Treatments Will I Need?

Although ketamine starts to work very rapidly and you will know within 24 hours if your treatment has worked, most people plan on 4-6 treatments over the course of 4-6 weeks to assure that the effect is long lasting. Research on this is ongoing. Injections are performed on an as-needed basis depending on the symptoms of the individual patient.

At the most, ketamine is not recommended long term without a break, simply because no research has yet been done on long-term effects. At Promise Medical, we adhere to a rule of thumb of no more than  2 treatments per week at the most. If receiving treatments regularly, after 6 weeks, our patients are required to take a "drug holiday" of 4 weeks to allow their brain to adjust and allow the patient to determine his/her new baseline status. 

Is Ketamine a Recreational Drug?

Unfortunately, lots of very important medications are abused for recreational purposes, including ketamine. Because it can also be used on animals undergoing surgery, it has been called a "horse tranquilizer", or on the street "special K".  (Even though it is also commonly used on animals, it is very much a "people drug" too, not just for horses!) When used recreationally, ketamine is ingested in much higher doses than would ever be administered at a ketamine clinic. Remember that ketamine is administered safely every day in operating rooms and emergency rooms all over the world in higher doses than what you receive to treat depression.

How Much Does a Ketamine Treatment Cost?

While most Ketamine Clinics in Utah are charging anywhere from $400 to $500 per treatment, we are offering an introductory price of $300/treatment. This consists of 1 injection, and a second injection 20-30 minutes later at no extra charge if the patient tolerated the first well, and desires another to increase its effect. A patient may receive a $25 discount for every referral brought in.