Depression: Turning to Ketamine Therapy Before Antidepressants

Medical Reviewer: Nima A. Fahimian, MD


Ben Spielberg, M.S., Ph.D. Candidate


There is a very real concern in the United States that doctors are overprescribing antidepressant medications to their patients. AARP mentions that prescribing meds “without a diagnosis of depression is escalating” especially among the elderly population.

Most often, medications are prescribed by a primary care physician or a psychiatrist for depression and mood disorders. Common antidepressant medication side effects include:

  • Nausea
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Loss of libido
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight gain
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Upset stomach
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Dizziness

With all these potential side effects, it’s no wonder most people are looking for new options for treatment. Intravenous (IV) ketamine infusions are just one such promising therapy.

Antidepressant Drugs and the Concern for Addiction

Certain antidepressants are addictive. This is especially true for benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Valium Librium, Dalmane, and Restoril. The American Family Physician mentions the very real risk associated with the long-term use of benzos. These risks include physical dependence, cognitive impairment, a potential risk for hip fractures and an increased risk of motor vehicle crashes.

Other antidepressants have unacceptable side effects or cause symptoms even when you stop taking them.

Typical symptoms of discontinuing use of many SSRI and SNRI antidepressant meds include:

  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Mood swings
  • Nightmares
  • Tremors
  • Vomiting
  • Balance problems
  • Muscle spasms
  • Electric shock sensations
  • Worsening of depression symptoms

Again, as with the side effects that are possible when taking antidepressants, withdrawal symptoms can be even worse when you suddenly stop taking these drugs. Talk to your doctor or psychiatrist before you stop taking any prescription med to minimize the risk of withdrawal. Depending on how long you were taking your medications, it can take several weeks for the medications to completely clear out of your body.

While these symptoms don’t necessarily mean you were addicted to the antidepressant, it certainly makes for an unpleasant experience as your body goes into overdrive to rid these chemicals from your system. On the other hand, ketamine therapy has few to no adverse symptoms with many patients mentioning they feel a deep sense of relaxation during their sessions.

Ketamine Therapy as Another Treatment Option

Ketamine treatments are up to 85 percent effective at treating depression and other mood disorders. Think about that statistic for a moment – the current primary medication track that most doctors prescribe takes between 6 and 8 weeks to work. Yet, the side effects of these meds are terrible and debilitating and they actually only work about 20 percent better than a placebo.

This is in direct contrast to IV ketamine which only takes one or two treatments before you start feeling an improvement in your depression symptoms. You’ll often know the day of your first session whether it’s going to work for you or not.

Another bonus is that IV ketamine treatments are non-addictive and you don’t have to be locked into taking a daily medication, as you do when taking prescription antidepressant pills. A typical recommended treatment plan is a series of 6 ketamine sessions spread out over 2 to 3 weeks with an occasional booster session scheduled every 3 to 6 months. During your initial consultation, Dr. Ben Spielberg will go over your medical history and discuss a specific plan for treatment to help you achieve optimal results.

IV ketamine treatments are so effective that many primary care physicians, psychologists, and psychiatrists are beginning to put IV ketamine treatments at the front of the line as a first go-to treatment plan. The results are phenomenal; it is a fast-acting therapy and the results are nearly immediate.

Schedule Your Free Consultation Today

Why would you want to take a medication that may have terrible side effects and take 6 to 8 weeks before you know if it will work? On the other hand, ketamine has a very high success rate that works almost immediately.

Contact Bespoke Treatment today to see if you are nearby our Los Angeles ketamine clinic and Santa Monica Spravato clinic to get the help you need and improve the quality of your life.


As someone who has struggled with depression for years, I was skeptical about trying alternative treatment options. However, the team at Bespoke Treatment made me feel comfortable and supported throughout the entire process. Not only did their TMS therapy provide significant relief for my depression symptoms, but I also had a positive experience with their ketamine therapy. The staff was incredibly knowledgeable and took the time to answer all of my questions and address any concerns I had.

I can't recommend this place enough. I had an incredible experience with the treatment I received here. From the administrative staff to the medical team, I really appreciated the outstanding care and attention I received and always felt listened to. There was never any sense of rushing or a "one size fits all" approach, which is sadly very much the norm elsewhere. I highly recommend coming here for the excellent quality of services, professionalism, and warmth that are so important when you're needing mental health treatment.

TMS was amazing for me . I loved my treatments , the doctors, the staff as well as the office itself. Its an amazing place to go for your wellbeing . Everyone is super nice, kind and extremely professional. The place is very easy to get to with available parking. Basically no stress. I felt very comfortable with my technician and all his knowledge about TMS . I also loved Dr. Fahimian . He is extremely educated and knowable in his field. His patience in taking his time to answer all my questions and concerns were highly appreciated.

I was severely depressed when starting treatment. I could not handle meds and had big hopes that TMS would work. It absolutely did wonders for lifting my depression. I have my life back. I have motivation to do things and energy to achieve goals. I really wasn’t sure if the TMS method would work, but it did and I am forever grateful. It even helped with my ruminating thoughts. I’m able to be in the moment and get back into doing things I enjoy. I highly recommend TMS to anyone who needs it.

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