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Ketamine and SSRIs man receiving ketamine iv therapy from a nurse and a bottle of pills poured out

Exploring Depression Treatments: Ketamine and SSRIs–A Comprehensive Comparison

Ketamine and SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) are both used in the treatment of depression. While they can be effective at managing symptoms of depression, there are important differences between Ketamine and SSRIs that might make one more suitable over the other. Deciding which treatment is best for you can be complicated, so it is important to understand the differences between Ketamine and SSRIs.  In this article, we compare Ketamine and SSRIs for treating depression to help you make an informed decision about which treatment option might be right for you. 

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is rapid-acting and can produce results within hours or days of administration. It works by increasing the activity of certain neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly glutamate, which is involved in mood regulation.

When treating depression, Ketamine given by IV, at subanesthetic doses has been found to provide rapid antidepressant effects. Ketamine can help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety within hours. Ketamine is very helpful in patients with TRD (Treatment Resistant Depression) after traditional antidepressants have been unsuccessful. You can read more about Treatment Resistant Depression here.

What are SSRIs?

SSRIs work by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Serotonin regulates mood, and low levels have been linked to depression and anxiety. SSRIs block the reuptake of serotonin, which means more is available in the brain. This can help to alleviate symptoms of depression.

SSRIs are typically taken orally, once daily, and can take several weeks to produce a noticeable effect on depression symptoms. SSRIs are often used as a first-line treatment for depression.

Differences between Ketamine and SSRIs

Ketamine and SSRIs: Timeline

Ketamine has been found to produce rapid antidepressant effects within hours of administration. Studies have shown that up to 70% of patients experience significant improvement in symptoms of depression after a single infusion of Ketamine. The antidepressant effects of ketamine can last for several days to weeks, but most patients require regular infusions to maintain the benefit.

SSRIs, on the other hand, can take several weeks to start working. It may even take several months of treatment before a significant improvement in symptoms is seen. Studies have shown that SSRIs are effective in reducing symptoms of depression, but the response rate is generally lower than that of Ketamine


Ketamine and SSRIs: Side Effects

The side effects between ketamine and SSRIs are different. Ketamine can cause dis-association, which can be bothersome to patients. Other side effects of ketamine include nausea, dizziness, and headache. These side effects are usually mild and short-lived. At KureIV, we have medications that we can use to help prevent and alleviate many of these side effects. 

SSRIs can cause a range of side effects, including nausea, insomnia, sleepiness, sexual dysfunction, and weight gain. While some of the side effects might go away as your body adjusts to the new medication, some of these will last the entirety of the medication. While rare, suicidal thoughts or behaviors, have been associated with taking SSRIs.



Ketamine and SSRIs: Final Thoughts

Ketamine is rapid-acting and used primarily in the treatment of treatment-resistant depression. SSRIs are typically used as a first-line treatment for depression and are easily available. However, they tend to take longer to produce a noticeable effect on depression symptoms.

Both Ketamine and SSRIs should only be used under the supervision of a qualified medical professional. The benefits and risks associated with both medications should be carefully considered before beginning treatment. Ketamine is more appropriate for those who have not responded to other treatments or for people who do not want to start SSRIs. While SSRIs may be more suitable for those just starting treatment for depression.


If you are in the Houston, Texas area and looking for an effective alternative to traditional SSRIs or as an adjunct to your current health treatment, Ketamine Infusion Therapy at KureIV might be the solution you have been searching for. Our team is dedicated to helping you find relief from your symptoms of depression and improve your quality of life. To learn more about our clinic you can visit our About Us page. 

If you would like to learn more about Ketamine Infusion Therapy and how it can help you on your journey toward improving your mental health, contact KureIV at (832)598-5100 today to set up a phone consultation with one of our doctors. Whether you prefer a phone call or text, our team is ready to help you find relief from depression symptoms and improve your overall quality of life. 


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About KureIV

KureIV provides safe, monitored ketamine infusion therapy for people who suffer from major depression, bipolar disorder, severe anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and chronic pain in a friendly, professional environment.