SAN ANTONIO - A rave drug is growing in popularity for its effectiveness to treat severe depression, and a San Antonio clinic is offering the treatment.
People have used ketamine for its psychedelic effects but the drug has also, been used as an anesthetic for decades in clinics and hospitals. Kalypso Wellness Center has been offering ketamine infusions to treat depression, PTSD, fibromyalgia, and migraines.
"About 15 years ago, someone did some research as an alternative for suicidal ideation for electric shock therapy. They found that if you administer the drug in a low dose over a long period of time, then essentially you reset your brain and your central nervous system," said Dr. Bryan Clifton. "It's kind of like when your computer locks up, your cell phone locks up, and you have to shut it down and reboot it."
The treatment takes about an hour and a half. Patients sit down, and a low dose of the drug is administered through an IV for about an hour.
"They usually feel like they're floating or relaxing, or just dozing off and feeling comfortable for the hour. Then, they stay about 20-30 minutes in the chair to make sure they are recovered appropriately," said Dr. Bryan Clifton.
Jamie Fox said the infusions have been extremely effective. For most of her life, she suffered from the disorder, and her depression worsened when her daughter went to college. Fox tried multiple prescriptions and expensive brain stimulation treatments.
"With depression, people will often say you have so much to be grateful for, snap out of it, get over it. There is that frustration and embarrassment when you've tried so many different things and nothing seems to work," said Fox. "There's the taboo with depression to start off with, and like most good, depressed people, I put a smile on my face."
But once Fox tried the infusion, she said her depression no longer consumed her life. Clifton said the drug has helped many of his patients in as little as one dose.
"This is helping me see the difference between sadness and depression. For the first time, I can be sad, cry, and then move on with the rest of my day," said Fox.
The Federal Drug Administration has yet to approve ketamine to treat depression, and it is not covered by insurance. Fox said she pays about $500 for a single ketamine treatment. She gets an infusion every 8 weeks.
Skeptics have argued that more studies should be conducted to see the long-term effects. But Fox said the results in her life is proof enough that the infusion is a good solution.
"The feeling of hopelessness and the thoughts of suicide they go away. I'm able to live in the moment," said Fox.
© 2017 KENS-TV