It’s no secret that ketamine is a highly effective treatment for depression. Study after study has shown that intravenous ketamine is effective in improving depressive symptoms in about 70% of patients. And while IV ketamine infusions have emerged as the “gold standard” in administration, newer studies have explored other routes of administration: intramuscular, sublingual, and intranasal.

Intramuscular administration has raised concern, primarily because the rate of administration cannot be as precise as is necessary for safety and comfort. Because the ketamine is absorbed so rapidly into the bloodstream, side-effects can be unpleasant and intense, and once it is administered, there is no way to “take it back” should the patience feel overwhelmed by the experience. The other concern with intramuscular administration is the ketamine can remain in a patient’s soft tissues for hours, being absorbed at a slow but highly variable rate. This makes the antidepressant benefits of the injection arguable at best.

Sublingual ketamine, while initially promising, has ultimately proven to be a problematic route of administration. It is difficult—if not impossible—to control the rate at which sublingual ketamine is delivered to the brain. Only about 30% of the ketamine will reach the brain, and absorption into the blood steam is slow; thus, it is challenging to reach an adequate level of the drug in the nervous system for a sustained period of time—a necessary recipe for effectiveness.

Then there is intranasal. Intranasal ketamine was the second most reliable route of administration, behind IV infusions. Recent studies, however, shed some light on unexpected problems associated with intranasal ketamine for depression. What at first seemed such a simple way to administer this life-changing drug has raised several red flags: unpredictability based on patient mucous levels, variability of application technique, unexpected problems with tolerability, etc.

Most likely, intranasal ketamine is facing the same problems as intramuscular administration: imprecise absorption into the bloodstream followed by incalculable rate of delivery to the brain.

IV ketamine infusions deliver 100% of the drug to brain in a very precise, calculable and controlled manner. For these reasons, side effects are generally mild, and those that do manifest typically pass within 1-2 hours of the infusion. In our Denver and Westminster, CO clinics, ketamine infusions are administered by highly-trained anesthesiologists, and monitored carefully using state-of-the-art equipment. This enables us to generate the best possible results for both psychiatric and pain patients.


If you or a loved one is suffering from severe depression, ketamine infusions may be an option. We’re happy to answer any questions you have about this innovative depression treatment, and point you in the right direction towards health and wellbeing—whatever direction that may be. Simply complete the brief form below and a member of our clinical team will contact you to get the process started!

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