Common Myths About Ketamine for Chronic Pain & Depression, Debunked


Ketamine has been rapidly gaining recognition as a great option for treating chronic pain and depression, but in the 1970s this drug was better known for its anesthetic capabilities, both on and off the battlefield. Although physicians knew of ketamine’s ability to relieve acute pain for many years, the use of this medication to help with psychiatric disorders is more of a modern notion. According to mental healthcare professionals, ketamine is changing the lives of countless patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression and debilitating chronic pain disorders.

Ketamine clinics began opening all around the country in 2012, and their numbers continue to grow in tandem with the rise in evidence supporting ketamine for depression and pain. The response from patients is truly incredible, so much so that ketamine is being deemed a “miracle” drug. Research, along with patient response, are showing highly effective and rapid symptom relief that can last weeks, months, or more. Today, ketamine infusions improve depressive symptoms in 70% of our patients, and there are multiple pharmaceutical companies investing in making treatments more publicly available by developing new forms of the medication. Janssen Pharmaceutical’s Esketamine was just approved by the FDA for the treatment of depression last week!

Since Elysian MD opened, and our staff has seen the life-changing—and, frankly, life-saving—results of ketamine infusions first-hand. Unfortunately, despite all the potential, ketamine is still seen as a club drug and invites scrutiny from those who do not understand it. One thing we can do to help combat the negative misconceptions about ketamine is share facts and educate as many people as possible. The research surrounding ketamine continues to present positive evidence. But, despite all of the hype, there are still those who are not convinced.

We want to discuss some of these ketamine myths, in regard to its ability to treat chronic pain and psychiatric disorders. Here are some of the most common myths about ketamine, debunked.

Myth #1: Ketamine for Chronic Pain is Just a Placebo and a Way to Make Pharmacies a Profit

First, ketamine’s patent expired a while back and, therefore, is no longer a major source of profit for “Big Pharma.” Ketamine has been around for many decades and is already approved by the FDA for treating chronic pain & surgical pain, but also as an anesthetic. Currently, a few companies are seeking FDA approval for a more publicly accessible source of ketamine, to be used as an antidepressant—one of which was just approved last week. The lack profit is one of the biggest hurdles for research funding, but slowly, people are realizing ketamine’s true potential.

Myth #2: Not Safe for Human Use

As for this one, ketamine was created and tested on humans before it made its way into the area of veterinary medicine (especially as horse tranquilizer). On top of that, the drug is listed on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines. It is known to be highly effective, safe and more affordable than many other options.

Myth #3: One of the Supposed BREAKTHROUGH Drugs that is Going to Fall Through

Ketamine was deemed a breakthrough medicine by the FDA and sent on the fast track for research, so there must be significant evidence for its potential. To debunk this myth all you have to do is set your sites to the internet and reference the multitudes of research. Many patients have seen relief from chronic pain and depressive symptoms through the use of ketamine infusions, already. In addition, the medicine has shown promise for helping with the following: cocaine & various drug addiction recovery, helping alcoholics achieve sobriety, and even creating a “vaccine” to protect first-responders from the development of PTSD. Ketamine has and will change the lives of thousands for many years to come.

Myth #4: Ketamine is Highly Addictive

This is just false. There is a possibility of becoming psychologically addicted when used recreationally, but the highly supervised nature of in-clinic infusions, coupled with the significantly lower dosing makes it highly unlikely that any patient would develop a dependence on this drug. Ketamine is only given by a medical professional and is not given as a take home prescription. All of these pre-cautions minimize the already rare chance of psychological addiction. Ketamine is not physically addictive.

These are only a few of the common myths surrounding ketamine, and opposition will always exist when discussing “drugs.” Our point is that the hope given to those with chronic pain, depression and other mental health issues is unmistakable. It allows people who are suffering to get back to hobbies they love, going out to dinner with loved ones, and being able to have the quality life they deserve!

Contact Elysian MD

Our professional staff is here to answer any questions you may have about ketamine. Use the brief form below to ask any questions you may have, and to request a free consultation to find out if you or a loved one is a candidate.