A new clinic in Pittsford is now offering ketamine treatments for people battling issues like depression, bipolar disorder along with chronic pain.
Upstate Ketamine Centers, located on Monroe Avenue in a space across the street from Pittsford Plaza, opened doors on Friday.
The clinic says research has shown ketamine to be successful in 70 to 80 percent of cases involving depression.
Angela Senoner, a nurse practitioner works for the clinic, tells News 8 that they work with a patient’s regular doctor to determine the right course of treatment. She says ketamine is most effective when used within the course of other treatments.
“Most of our patients that come in will already be on some type of medications,” says Senoner. “We’re not discouraging patients from stopping their medications. This is kind of an adjunct therapy.”
While the clinic says ketamine could be a game-changer for some patients where other treatments have failed, the drug is best known as a popular club drug and an animal sedative. But, ketamine has been approved by the FDA for human use since the 1970s.
Senoner says the dose they provide for the treatment is significantly lower than what recreation users would take. She says it is one-eighth the dose you’d receive for normal sedation.
“It’s a very low dose and it’s administered over 40 minutes,” says Senoner. “There’s no direct ‘high rush’ or anything like that.”
However, doctors say there are still questions about the impact ketamine can have on human brains.
“What we’re trying to understand is what does it change in the brain that allows that sustained anti-depressant like response?” Yale researcher Dr. Gerry Sanacora told CBS News in February.
And ketamine could present some risks for those who use the drug.
The doctor adds, “There is at least evidence in animal models that these type of medications can actually cause some structural damage in the brain. That’s usually at higher doses, that’s usually at longer term exposure but we don’t know where that level is.”
In any case, doctors say patients should follow typical treatments first and not consider ketamine until traditional treatments fail.
Treatments at Upstate Ketamine Centers cost $450 per infusion.