A proposed study by a ketamine therapy provider

May 16, 2015 in Research

Dr. Steven Levine was one of the very first US doctors to offer ketamine infusion therapy for depression. A psychiatrist in Princeton, NJ, he has been providing the treatment since 2011. Based on his experience treating over 400 patients, Dr. Levine has designed a study to see if successful antidepressant outcomes can be correlated with certain sensations that can occur during the infusion procedure.

In order for the study to remain independent and not rely on support from the pharmaceutical industry, Dr. Levine has launched a crowdfunding effort. See Does the Experience of Awe Predict Ketamine’s Rapid Antidepressant Effect? for a full description of the project and budget.

Ketamine seminar in Portland, OR, on May 16

May 8, 2015 in Misc

Dr. Enrique Abreu of the Portland Ketamine Clinic will be holding a free seminar at Portland State University on Saturday, May 16, 5:00-6:30pm. Dr. Abreu is a board certified anesthesiologist and has been performing ketamine infusions for depression since 2013. In the seminar he’ll share his experience with the treatment, and the outcomes he’s seen. Some of his current and former patients (including Ketamine Advocacy Network founder Dennis Hartman) will also be on hand to talk about their experience with the treatment.

If you are in the Pacific Northwest and would like to learn about ketamine treatment for depression, for yourself or a loved one, this seminar is an excellent opportunity to hear from a doctor and patients who know it firsthand. Below is Dr. Abreu’s invitation, which contains a flyer and directions.

———————————————————————————–

Hello friends,

As some of you know, two years ago I began treating patients with an anesthetic agent called ketamine to treat their clinical depression. The therapy has been extremely successful in our patients. The clinic was started after a dental patient of mine called requesting this anesthetic drug for his depression. After researching the current medical data on this therapy, I found that the data was overwhelmingly positive. From that successful treatment I was able to expand and treat a number of other patients. So far I have done over 280 ketamine infusions.

Recently I was interviewed by WebMD about this new use of ketamine: Ketamine: The Future of Depression Treatment?

Since many of us encounter friends, patients and family members that have depression, I wanted to spread the word about this therapy.

On Saturday May 16 at 5pm I will host a free information seminar on the campus of Portland State University here in downtown Portland. It will be held in the Browsing room of the Smith Memorial Student center.

Some of my current and past patients will be in attendance to share their experiences with the treatment.

Click here for an invite, and here for a map and directions. Feel free to pass this on to others you think may benefit.

Here is the website of the clinic : Portland Ketamine Clinic

We hope to see you there.

All the best, Enrique

Portland Ketamine Clinic
Medical director – Dr. Enrique Abreu

Gerald Gaines: Ketamine pioneer and psychiatric POW

March 6, 2015 in Misc

Something horrible is happening at this very moment to a Network member and fellow ketamine patient.  We want to tell his story because it shows how dangerously broken our mental healthcare system is.  Without reform, each of us is at risk of the same nightmare.

Gerald Gaines is a name you should know if you are interested in ketamine therapy.  Ger’s life was transformed by this treatment a few years ago after a lifetime of suffering.  Like us, he had been medicated for decades with drugs that didn’t help, and often made his condition much worse.  Just like us, he felt an obligation to make fellow sufferers aware of this new ketamine hope, and wanted to help patients get access to the treatment.  So he literally built a ketamine clinic from the ground up, with his own funds.  Ger is not a doctor, but through sheer force of will and substantial investment, he simply made it happen.  Depression Recovery Centers in Phoenix – recently renamed Ketamine Recovery Centers (KRC) – was one of the very first in the US dedicated to ketamine infusion therapy.  With a full complement of anesthesiologists, nurses, a psychologist, and a business office, it is a highly professional operation.  Ger even organized and hosted the first-ever conference of ketamine therapy doctors.  Last year Ger sold his interest in the clinic and he’s no longer involved in the business, but his legacy is a clinic that is relieving immense human suffering.

That would have made a good end to this story, with Ger riding into the sunset with the gratitude of KRC’s patients.  But instead, today Ger is fighting to avoid being force-medicated without medical basis, and fighting for his freedom.  If you have ever been treated for depression, bipolar, PTSD, or any other mental health issue, this could happen to you.  Here’s the story…

Ger is currently in a legal dispute.  It’s a civil matter, not criminal.  So it’s not particularly interesting to anyone but the parties themselves.  It started as just an ordinary civil dispute between two individuals.  But the other side has exploited Ger’s health history in a way that capitalizes on the dysfunction of our mental healthcare system.

The other side – who is hundreds of miles away in a different time zone – made a complaint to Ger’s local police that resulted in his arrest, and did it in a way that disclosed his medical history.  We’re not going into the details of the complaint here because they don’t matter to this story.  But it’s worth asking yourself:  If you wanted to get someone falsely arrested, can you think of a complaint you could make to police that would guarantee an arrest?  Of course.  It’s not that hard.  At any rate, Ger’s arrest was due solely to this complaint, from a faraway party.  (For the record, those of us who know the details of the complaint think it’s BS.)

This is the kind of thing that usually results in a quick processing and release.  But with the arresting authority aware of Ger’s medical history, he was inexplicably taken to Desert Vista Behavioral Health Center.  And that’s where he’s been for more than three weeks.

Many of our fellow sufferers know what it’s like to be pumped full of SSRIs, mood stabilizers, tricyclics, etc., for years or even decades with no benefit.  Now imagine if someone made a false claim against you that resulted in your arrest, and your treatment history resulted in you being held in a psych ward.  Now imagine expressing outrage at this mistreatment, only to see your outrage held up as evidence that you are somehow unhinged.

Take just a moment to ponder that.  You have treatment-resistant depression, or bipolar, etc.  There is no medication (prior to ketamine) that can help your condition.  Your doctors keep you on psychotropic meds with horrible side-effects for years even though they don’t help you, and often make you worse.  In other words, your doctors failed you.  But now that you’ve unexpectedly come into contact with law enforcement, their failure magically lifts off their shoulders and turns into a sign that hangs around your neck and reads “crazy person”.  But you’re not crazy, you simply suffer from a very common, very painful condition that doesn’t respond to any meds.

Many of our readers have seen the inside of a psychiatric holding ward.  You know that in this country, they are usually chambers of horror, where all kinds of different conditions are thrown together:  depression, schizophrenia, dementia, psychosis, etc.  Like a good old-fashioned 19th century asylum.  No one can make money by treating patients in this environment – not pharma, not hospitals, not doctors – so the standard of care is very low.  Patients often don’t receive any actual treatment, only a cursory exam by a psychiatrist who always prescribes a psychotropic med.  The patient is pressured to take the med and “contract for safety” so they can be released with minimal liability.  Once they accept the psychotropic meds and take them for a few days, they may leave.  Even if the meds make their condition worse.  If this sounds like a big pharma horror story, it is.  The patient is now stuck on drugs that are extremely difficult to discontinue, and the US medication mill has gained a new revenue stream.

For Ger, it’s this bad, and worse.  He’s a very direct and outspoken guy.  That’s how he gets things done like building a ketamine clinic, or earning the money in the first place that allowed him to build it.  For taking a strong stance against his Kafka-esque situation, he’s now being further held as a danger to himself or others, and unable to care for himself.  Those of us who know Ger – and some of us are actual medical professionals – recognize this as bogus, and are deeply outraged.

Ger says Desert Vista violated HIPAA (the federal patient privacy law) by contacting his psychiatrist and requesting confidential information without Ger’s consent.  Unfortunately, he says the psychiatrist compounded the situation by giving the information, again without Ger’s consent.  HIPAA ensures that 100% of your patient information is expressly confidential unless you provide explicit prior written authorization for it to be shared.  The inevitable lawsuits in this case will be interesting to follow.

Desert Vista has imposed a treatment plan on Ger.  They are trying to force him to take a serious cocktail of the very same drugs that have acutely worsened his condition in the past.  He knows what these meds will do to him and desperately wants to avoid them.  Desert Vista has no knowledge of Ger’s full medical history, besides the partial info obtained illegally from his most recent doctor.  They have forced him to submit to exams by three different psychiatrists.  One promptly quit and is no longer a Desert Vista employee.  The second is the Chief of Psychiatry, who reversed herself on the stand in Ger’s court hearing.  The third has refused to participate further in Desert Vista’s handling of Ger’s case.  Quite clearly, their own medical staff has no agreement about Ger’s condition.

Worst of all, they have not demonstrated that he actually has a condition that would respond to their proposed meds.  Many of you know how excruciatingly difficult and painful it is to get off SSRIs and other psychotropics.  Ger has been through it recently and is largely medication-free.  The idea of being forced back onto meds – without proper consultation, without considering the harm they have caused him in the past – is terrifying.  (Have any of you ever succeeded in quitting Cymbalta?  It was utter agony, right?  What if you were forced against your will to get back on it?)  But Desert Vista has the power to hold him indefinitely until he submits to their authority.  This would lock him back into a familiar cycle:  being stuck on drugs that don’t help and in fact make him worse, but are extremely hard to quit, while having to suffer the knowledge that pharma is benefiting financially from his misery.

Desert Vista truly is one of those chambers of horror.  Ger’s area houses all types of mental conditions, just like the old-fashioned asylum.  There are three patients per room, not separated by diagnosis or severity.  Yesterday Ger was assaulted by one of the other detainees who, unlike Ger, actually has a dangerous and violent condition.

Ger will not agree to be forcibly medicated, and we don’t blame him.  But Desert Vista won’t release him until he complies with their idea of “treatment”.  In the meantime, they are not actually providing him any treatment at all, and they function solely as a jail.

There’s even more.  Ger has special dietary needs (medical, not religious) that Desert Vista refuses to meet, and he is unable to digest most of their institutional meals.  He is allowed a high-protein snack at 2pm and 8pm, and these are proving to be some of the only foods they allow which he can eat.  But they only permit him a small snack portion.  He cannot get enough to sustain himself, and after three weeks has lost substantial weight and muscle mass.

The very last thing we want to tell you about Ger is that he has never been diagnosed with any condition a reasonable person would consider dangerous.  He’s had many of the same diagnoses as other Network members who have battled lifelong depression, PTSD, bipolar, etc.  He’s not psychotic.  He’s not schizophrenic.  He’s not violent.  He doesn’t hear voices.  He simply has a condition that doctors have never succeeded in treating – like many of us.  And it seems that was enough to shunt him into a medical prison nightmare.

This story was set in motion by a single complaint lodged from another state – and not because Ger was exhibiting any symptoms or behavioral problems.  He faces the prospect of being forced back onto meds that cause him harm, and becoming a captive pharma revenue stream all over again.

Ger has given huge charitable gifts to mental health issues over the past 15 years.  He gave KRC to the world.  He’s very well-educated on issues of mental health care, and the deep flaws in our US system, and the damage wrought when pharma profits drive the entire medical industry.  He’s an enormously successful businessman.  What does it mean when someone like Ger can fall so squarely into such a trap?

We’re telling this story for two reasons.  First, we care about Gerald Gaines.  As ketamine patients, we are indebted to him for helping raise awareness of the treatment, and for giving the world a top-notch clinic.  As fellow sufferers, we are comrades in arms.  On a personal level, we find him to be a good man.

But the second reason is much bigger.  Ger’s nightmare could happen to any of us.  Anyone with a history of failed treatments for depression, bipolar, etc., is a sitting duck under similar circumstances.  Anyone who has been caught in the “pill mill” model of psychiatry is vulnerable.  Anyone cursed with a mental health condition that doctors can’t cure is vulnerable.

We’ll update this post when we get info on how you can help support Ger.

Have you seen this kind of nightmare before?  Have you lived it?  What do you think needs to change to prevent it?

Thank you, Al Jazeera America

February 12, 2015 in Media Coverage

Al Jazeera America has just published a really outstanding piece on ketamine treatment for depression. Thank you to the author, Tim Bella, for telling the story in a way that balances the perspectives of doctors, researchers, and patients. Too many articles on ketamine try to manufacture controversy by hyping researchers’ concerns, which attracts readers but casts the treatment in a false light. But Tim’s article does not rely on this gimmick. It gives voice to actual patients whose lives have been transformed, and it also explains the history and unknowns in a straightforward way. Bravo.

Thank you, National Public Radio

December 15, 2014 in Media Coverage

NPR affiliate KPCC in Southern California did a segment on ketamine for depression today, as part of their AirTalk program with Larry Mantle.  Dennis Hartman, founder and CEO of the Ketamine Advocacy Network, was a studio guest and described his own experience as a patient, and explained some of the basics about the treatment.  Also on the program were Dr. Alan Schatzberg, past president of the American Psychiatric Association and Professor of Psychiatry at Stanford, and Dr. David Feifel, Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Diego who treats some depression patients with ketamine, and whose contact info can be found on our directory.

An audio recording of the broadcast can be found here.

Thank you, New York Times

December 10, 2014 in Media Coverage

Today’s New York Times article is driving a huge amount of traffic to our site.  If you are here to learn the basics about ketamine for depression (and bipolar and PTSD) see our FAQ page.  If you’re looking for a doctor who offers ketamine treatment, see our directory and interactive map.

We’ve been hard at work to dramatically improve this website, and it will be relaunching soon with a complete overhaul.  If you don’t find the info you’re looking for today, please check back shortly as we’ll be adding quite a bit of new content, and hundreds of links to additional resources.

This is a good time to give a caution that we don’t provide medical advice here.  We are patients, not doctors.  Our aim is to inform, and to make our fellow sufferers aware that there is an extraordinary new treatment available if you have severe, treatment-resistant depression that hasn’t responded to anything else.  Consider volunteering for a clinical trial where you can receive an infusion, or use this site to find a doctor who offers the treatment.  In the meantime you should absolutely, positively NOT try ketamine on your own illegally or for recreational purposes.

 

Coming soon: website re-launch

October 21, 2014 in Misc

We will be re-launching our website in December, with brand new content, tons of scientific research and media coverage, an updated directory of doctors, and links to ketamine studies where you can volunteer.  Plus a dramatically improved interface.  Stay tuned…

UPDATE 1/2/15:
Well, we didn’t get the re-launch done in December as we hoped.  That’s life when you’re operating on a shoestring nonprofit budget, especially when a member of your already-small team gets sideline by unexpected surgery for a couple weeks.  The re-launch is still coming, and we’ll announce it loudly.

You can influence depression research

July 30, 2014 in Research

Redkite has posted a link in the discussion forums to a survey being conducted by the James Lind Alliance. This influential group is seeking to shape the direction of depression research in the UK and elsewhere. You do not have to be a UK citizen to complete the survey. Time is short — the survey closes tomorrow, July 31. Please consider participating. Thank you, Redkite.

The survey is here: http://www.depressionarq.org/pages/about-the-survey

Interactive map of ketamine doctors

July 8, 2014 in Advocacy

We’ve added an interactive map to our directory of US ketamine therapy providers.

You may see an ad attached to the map. This is because we are using a free mapping service in order to keep our costs low. The ad is placed by the free mapping service, not us. We do not sell ads on this site or endorse any product or provider.

Please sign this petition regarding ketamine research

July 4, 2014 in Advocacy, Research

Please see this petition created by Depression Recovery Centers and consider signing.  It is self-explanatory, and compelling.

Skip to toolbar