Three years after clinical trial, ketamine provides hope for severely depressed

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Patients arriving at Dr. Philip O’Carroll’s Newport Beach office for their first ketamine treatment are in pain and often lost. They have visited other doctors, tried other solutions and are ready for what is considered a last resort.

They are led to a private room with a reclining lounge chair. Their blood pressure is checked, and they are handed a bottle of nasal spray. One whiff into each nostril, and they feel the edges of life suddenly soften. Tranquility overcomes them.

Some listen to music. Others watch television or sit quietly, perhaps even doze, and within two hours, their discomfort and brain fog have receded. The spiral of thoughts and feelings has slowed.

Since its approval by the Food and Drug Administration in 2019, ketamine or more specifically, its cousin — fast-acting, easily administered and insurance-billable — esketamine, has started to change the landscape of depression, especially where it borders on suicide.

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