You may have met someone who has benefited from ketamine for pain or saw a video online talking about how ketamine works to alleviate depression. You may then have gone to your doctor or mental health care professional to ask them about ketamine and got a cold reception, flat out “no”, or a simple shrug of the shoulders.
The medical profession is slow to change, and even slower to adopt new practices and new medicines. Not only does the medical profession have to convince approving bodies that a medication or treatment is safe, they then have to get buy-in from the medical professionals themselves.
Why aren’t more doctors and mental health care providers shouting from rooftops wanting to share this amazing medication with you? Here are three reasons why:
1. They simply don’t know about ketamine: When a future doctor goes to medical school they learn a lot of different stuff. They learn about ketamine as a sedative, not as a treatment for mood disorders. In residency (where a doctor really learns how to be a doctor) there are only a handful of specialities, namely emergency medicine and anesthesia, who know how to use ketamine and let alone are comfortable in using it. Also, if your doctor or mental health professional is not following the latest and innovative treatments they may not know the growing role of ketamine to treat your condition.
2. They simply don’t believe in ketamine or are biased: Doctors are humans, humans are creatures of habit. They may not believe in using unconventional treatments, or don’t agree with using traditionally accepted medications in novel ways. Your doctor may have a religious or moral bias against medications that are dubbed “psychedelics”, as ketamine can cause psychedelic experiences at certain doses.
3. They don’t know how to advise you on the use of ketamine: Maybe your doctor has seen that same video online, read the latest medical journal articles about ketamine, and even wants to encourage you to give it a try! Well, they may not advise you to try ketamine because, they don’t know how or where to send you. Maybe they know of a doctor who would be great for you, but lives on the other side of the country. Maybe there is no one they know in your local medical community they could refer you to. Or because they don’t have experience with it they don’t want you to get mistreated or hurt...so they simply don’t recommend it.
So the next time you see your doctor or mental healthcare provider, and think about discussing ketamine with them, keep these reasons in mind. Perhaps these reasons will give you a little perspective from where your doctor is coming from when you hear their responses. If you sense your doctor is open to but unsure about ketamine, you might have an opportunity to share some knowledge with them!