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Patient: Without Ketamine, ‘I would welcome death at any point’

AMERICAN FORK — More clinics throughout Utah are providing Ketamine, an anesthetic used to medically induce sleep in patients for surgery, to fight depression.

No remedy has lasted more than six months for one woman who has been fighting major depressive disorder.

“I’ve been on over 25 medications and combinations, and it’s been over 20 years of my life, and just really, really hard,” she said, wishing to remain anonymous.

Five months ago, she told her husband, “I couldn’t do anymore. I wasn’t necessarily going to harm myself. It’s just that I would welcome death at any point.”

Ketamine treatment was the last resort for her and she has since had several intravenous infusions since that stark talk.

She now says, “The best way I can describe it is ‘life-changing’ for me.”

She’s a patient at the Utah Ketamine Clinic in American Fork, founded six months ago, owned and operated by Zachary Taylor and Ryan Blaney.

“We do a little bit of a health screening to make sure they are eligible,” Taylor said. “We don’t just want people coming in off of the street for Ketamine.”

These certified registered nurse anesthetists work day jobs and run the clinic at night.

“We have a nice big chair that they can sit on, blankets, music available that they can listen to so that while they’re here, they can feel comfortable and safe,” Taylor showed. “They feel like they can allow their brains and minds to heal.”

Their equipment monitors all vital signs, as the IV pumps Ketamine slowly, for 45 minutes per treatment.

“You’re going to have people that naysay, people that don’t believe literature, and people that don’t feel that it’s safe,” Blaney said, mainly due to Ketamine being repurposed from a sedative to a depression treatment.

“Most of our results, I would say, come pretty rapidly,” he added.

“It seems to help rewire and increase connections within mood-regulating circuits of the brain,” said Dr. Paul Carlson, co-founder of the Ketamine Clinic at University of Utah’s Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI).

He says oral, internasal, and intermuscular forms of Ketamine are in development but “maintaining the response with Ketamine is the biggest challenge.”

So far, several treatments are required to improve response but as our anonymous patient testifies, the anesthetic/antidepressant clears the bad thoughts just enough.

“I am able to now cope in a different way because my perspective has changed and my mind has opened to a different way,” she said.

She’ll continue the Ketamine treatments indefinitely, just like her family members also fighting major depressive disorder.

Dr. Carlson, Taylor, and Blaney all stress that this treatment should be used when other treatments have failed depression patients.