Sarasota center treats depression with controversial drug

A new therapy center treats depression with Ketamine

SARASOTA, Fla. (WFLA) – The Christmas season brings joy and happiness to many but it can cause heartache and sadness.

The holiday blues are a real issue dealt with by millions of people. A new Sarasota therapy center hopes to help. The Gulf Coast Ketamine Center is using a controversial drug in the process.

Ketamine is an anesthetic that can lead to hallucinations when taken in high doses. It’s also been used as a date rape drug.

But, when used in small doses, it can help treat depression, chronic pain and migraines. “Most patients who undergo these infusions at low doses tolerate them really well,” Dr. Steven Reichbach said.

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At the Gulf Coast Ketamine Center, the drug is carefully infused in small doses. Staff carefully monitor patients for side effects, Reichbach said. They also work closely with the patients’ mental health providers.

“You don’t get … those kinds of hallucinations. And if you do, we give you medication that can counteract it,” Reichbach said.

Doctors say the results have been astounding. “Things start to change after one infusion and it’s almost miraculous how well it works when it does work,” Reichbach said.

Drug experts tell 8 On Your Side ketamine abuse can be very harmful. However, they said, some taboo drugs can have positive side effects.

For example, cocaine is used in eye surgery, and ecstasy has been used to help trauma patients.

Martinique Teperman gets anxious this time of year. “The holidays are usually challenging,” she explained.

Teperman has battled depression for years. She decided to try a new method – at the Gulf Coast Ketamine Center.

“Nothing has worked and so I figured, why not try this?” she said.

Teperman is aware of the risks of ketamine, but so far, it’s helped her tremendously, she said.

“It’s something that gives you hope that you can actually feel better and you can get to where other people are in terms of happiness and positivity,” Teperman said.

National Institute of Mental Health officials say ketamine is promising. They are currently holding trials to study the drug’s effects on depression.

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