It is a medication used in hospitals on a daily basis in anesthesia and is fully approved by the FDA. It is considered by the World Health Organization to be one of the most essential medicines in the world for pain relief and sedation.
Since 2000, ketamine infusions have been successfully used in relieving the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and various pain syndromes.
Research is continuing in an attempt to explain why it is a success, but the current belief is that ketamine aids in the NMDA receptor blocking pattern which increases the levels of glutamate in the neuronal synapses.
Ketamine can be useful in treating bipolar disorder, but it is not suitable for patients who are exhibiting active psychosis or mania. It also should not be given if the patient has unstable cardiovascular disease.
Ketamine works in a completely different way than SSRIs like Zoloft or Lexapro. The most common explanation for how SSRIs work is the chemical imbalance theory which states that there is a deficit of serotonin that can be increased using SSRIs. However, this is not an accurate representation of depression.
There is a great deal of research to support the idea that depression can be linked to a build-up of proteins in the brain. Ketamine combats this by repairing damage caused by long-term stress hormones like cortisol. Ketamine can rapidly repair this damage by increasing brain plasticity.