Ketamine is a well-researched, dissociative anesthetic that the FDA approved in 1970. Since then, ketamine has been used extensively for pediatric and adult treatment in surgery, emergency departments, ambulances, trauma medicine, and more. The World Health Organization lists ketamine as one of the essential medications due to its therapeutic effects and a wide margin of safety.
Over the last two decades, Yale University and the National Institutes of Health identified additional benefits of ketamine in treating mood disorders and chronic pain. The use of ketamine for depression is what some doctors are calling the biggest breakthrough in mental health treatment in decades.
The neuron pictured here shows new dendritic formations, or new neural growth, within just 2 hours of receiving a ketamine infusion. Ketamine's effect on the human - how exactly it interacts with the medial prefrontal cortex and hippocampus regarding chronic pain, for instance - is open to debate. We know that ketamine has been shown to reduce some of the symptoms associated with mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and chronic pain.
After ketamine treatments, the depressed brain is almost identical to the non-depressed picture as new neural activity has awakened the depressed areas. The amygdala, the part of the brain that handles fear and emotion, may benefit from ketamine infusion therapy. This part of the brain is also vital to dealing with mood disorders like anxiety and depression.