Ketamine therapy: New, innovative treatment for depression in the Valley

SCOTTSDALE, AZ - The Valley has one of the first Ketamine clinics in the country -- with the newest innovation fighting depression to help you or your family.

Colorful History

Ketamine is more commonly known as a horse tranquilizer.

In the '90s, crooks stole Ketamine out of veterinarian clinics to sell on the street as 'Special K.'

It was a popular rave drug.

But, Ketamine really got its start during the Vietnam War. It was used as an anesthetic.

It's also used in emergency rooms across the country.

Today, it's the hottest new method for treating clinical depression.

Treating Depression

The clinic is called, Depression Recovery Centers and it is located in Scottsdale.

There, patients receive small doses of the drug intravenously while being closely monitored at the clinic.

"We are seeing incredible results," said Dr. Ellen Diamond, a clinical psychologist at the clinic. "I have seen person after person come through here and their life has been changed."

Ger Gaines is the clinic's owner. He made his first fortune as one of the founders of Sprint PCS. Now, he's taking on clinical depression.

"Depression is very common. About 10 percent of the population has depression at any given time," he said.

But for Gaines, it is more than just a business venture.

"I suffer from bipolar disorder," he said, "But probably more motivating, I have close relatives that also suffer from depression. And just being able to do something that can change their lives is important to me."

Ketamine treatment for depression was found accidently. It was being used for pain relief when many of the patients noticed they weren't depressed anymore.

"We are more directly targeting the structures in the brain that control emotions," Diamond said.

Gaines uses "dead leaves on a tree" as an analogy.

"What the Ketamine does is take that unhealthy looking tree in winter and grow it back to a tree in summer in just an hour's time."

Patient Turned Advocate

Jeremiah Franks suffers from depression.

"I had been struggling for a long time," he said.

Franks has tried many drug combinations over the past decade. He said he hit bottom last year.

"My hospitalization was last October (2012) and that was for suicidal planning," he said, "It just progressed and got worse and worse and worse."

That's when he found the Ketamine clinic.

Franks said it saved his life.

"It has obviously changed me for the better," he said.

When Franks started the treatment, he was taking eight different drugs. Today he takes two.

"There was the relatively immediate relief of my suicidal thoughts that was gone after my first treatment and by the second treatment the vast majority of my depression was gone," Franks said.

Franks said it has changed his life. So much so, that now he works with patients at the clinic.

This therapy is not considered a cure.

"You see people lives' change," said Diamond, "It is easy to become a believer."

Diamond tells us that many big drug companies are working on their own derivative that they can make into a pill and patent it as the next major anti-depressant drug.

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