Ketamine Injections for Severe Depression

If you suffer from severe depression and have tried, but not responded to, standard medications and talk therapy, you may want to discuss alternative treatment options with a UC San Diego Health mental health professional. Ketamine is one potential alternative treatment for treatment-resistant depression.

What Is the Advantage of Ketamine?

Its advantage over current medications is the speed at which the drug takes effect. While traditional oral antidepressants may take weeks to improve mood, a ketamine injection provides relief within hours. This can be of great value to individuals with an acute depressive episode. Ketamine is, however, considered an experimental medication.

Why Is Ketamine Considered Experimental?

Although ketamine has been used safely as an anesthetic since the 1970s, it is not FDA approved for use as a psychiatric drug. It is considered an experimental drug for depression because there have been no large-scale, double-blind, placebo controlled clinical trials documenting its safety and efficacy as a treatment for depression.

Who Is a Candidate for Ketamine Injections?

UC San Diego Health only recommends ketamine for select individuals with non-psychotic, treatment-resistant depression. We also follow the guidelines set forth by the American Psychiatric Association on the use of ketamine in the treatment of mood disorders. Your safety is our top priority.

If you are interested in a ketamine injection, you must first meet with one of our physicians to carefully review your medical history, current symptoms and past treatments. Your physician will then discuss ketamine treatment and its alternatives.

Is Ketamine Treatment Covered by Insurance?

Because it is an experimental therapy, ketamine injections are not covered by health insurance. A single ketamine injection costs about $500. A typical treatment session lasts 2 hours, with injections repeated in days to weeks, depending on your response to the initial treatments.

Your initial evaluation should be covered by your health insurance if UC San Diego Health is an accepted mental health care provider. Please check with your health insurance provider.

Appointments & Referrals


La Jolla