Hope and hype: What ketamine can and can’t do for depression

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Image credit: Darren Abate /San Antonio Express-News

Starting with just one office 19 months ago, [Kalypso Wellness Center] has expanded rapidly to meet surging patient demand for ketamine and now oversees two other Texas clinics and offices in North Carolina and New York. It recruits customers through online ads and radio spots, and even by visiting support groups for pain patients, people with depression, first responders, and grieving parents who have lost children.

Kalypso’s sweeping claims are hardly uncommon in the booming ketamine treatment business. Dozens of free-standing clinics have opened across the U.S. in recent years to provide the drug to patients who are desperate for an effective therapy and hopeful ketamine can help. But the investigation found wide-ranging inconsistencies among clinics, from the screening of patients to the dose and frequency of infusions to the coordination with patients’ mental health providers.

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[E]xperts worry they’re offering the drug to anyone who can afford it. Clinics can charge anywhere from $350 to close to $1,000 per infusion.

There’s a clear need for new treatments for major depressive disorder, and experts agree that ketamine holds potential to rapidly treat depression and possibly other mental health conditions in some — though nowhere near all — patients. Drug companies are testing similar medications for depression, suicidality, and bipolar disorder, but it hasn’t yet been approved for these conditions.

Read full, original post: Ketamine gives hope to patients with severe depression. But some clinics stray from the science and hype its benefits

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