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Ketamine vs Antidepressants

Depression isn’t new, and the truth is that there is no one way to treat it that works for everyone. Newer studies show that some methods of treatment may work better than others depending on an individual’s specific needs. Studies show that conventional antidepressants leave too many people still depressed or dealing with significant side effects. Although there are a lot of opinions and ongoing stigma around them, they’ve been extremely helpful for some people. 

Recently, a newer form of treatment is helping a lot of people who deal with depression that has not been resolved with more conventional approaches. This discovered treatment that directly targets depression. Meet ketamine. It’s been around in the medical field and used for anesthesia for decades, but has now been shown to target several mechanisms in the brain that researchers believe maintain stubborn cases of depression. While ketamine therapy doesn’t completely get rid of depression, it is a rapid active treatment that can provide immediate relief for clinical depression, and open up a window for deeper recovery from depression. 

When other methods don’t work or stop being as effective, ketamine therapy can, and often does, provide life-changing results.


Like anything in the medical field, there are pros and cons to using ketamine as a treatment. However, ketamine has a rather unique set of mechanisms, including targeting glutamate receptors rather than the serotonin neurotransmitter system, directly inhibiting inflammatory pathways, and increasing levels of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). 

Pros you can look out for with ketamine therapy are:

  • Brief interventional treatment often with benefits beginning faster than traditional antidepressants.
  • Uniquely effective for the suicidal thoughts that often accompany depression.
  • Free of the usual side effects of conventional antidepressants such as diminished libido and emotional numbing 
  • Higher effectiveness rates than antidepressants, especially for depression that didn’t respond to antidepressants alone.

Cons you may face with ketamine:

  • More research is needed on the long-term side effects of ketamine.
  • The dissociative effects while on ketamine can be uncomfortable – clinics like ours ensure that you have a therapist with you at all times to help you with the experience.
  • Due to potentially addictive properties, it may not be a suitable method of treatment for those with a history of addiction.
  • Ketamine may not entirely eliminate depression and shouldn’t be used frequently or without trying other medical solutions first.


The list of antidepressants is an almost endless string of names most of us couldn’t pronounce if we tried. The reality is that many antidepressants do have their benefits in the right setting, but they also can be detrimental if not monitored or used properly. Antidepressants have a long history of becoming addictive and causing more problems than actually helping, which is partial to why many people avoid them if they can. However, they can be a useful solution for the short-term treatment of depression. 

Pros of being on an antidepressant are:

  • Taking a daily pill, if it works, is convenient.
  • Once your body has adjusted to the antidepressant, you may experience a reduction in mood swings and unwanted emotions. 
  • Potential increase in serotonin, which can leave you feeling a boost of energy and comfort.
  • Decrease in anxiety or patterns of sleep disruption.

Cons of being on an antidepressant are: 

  • Typically slow-acting without relief for several weeks or even months.
  • Many antidepressants cause serious withdrawal effects when you stop them.
  • Often don’t work or don’t work well enough.
  • It can be difficult to find the right antidepressant for you, leaving you to deal with a carousel of unhelpful trials or scary side effects.


If you’ve tried the antidepressant route and found that it either has not helped you or caused too many side effects, ketamine might be a great solution for you. Contact us to find out how ketamine therapy could help provide relief from ongoing depression. We’ll schedule a time to set up an evaluation and answer your questions regarding ketamine therapy.