Clinic treats pain, depression with ketamine

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — A clinic in Bismarck is offering treatments with ketamine, which is growing in popularity as a treatment for depression and pain.

Jackie Materi, a certified registered nurse anesthetist and the operator of the Ketamine Care Clinic, administers the drug through a vein, with six infusions over a two-week period, The Bismarck Tribune reported.

Bismarck resident Erin Fitterer, 32, became depressed after two failed back surgeries to cure her chronic leg and back pain from fibromyalgia. She said she noticed the difference in her pain after her first treatment.

"Now that I feel good, I'm busy making up for lost time," she said of being able to play with her children. "It's like you don't realize how much pain you're in until you get it under control."

There are still concerns about widespread use of the drug for treating depression because the length of its effectiveness varies from person to person and continued use can lead to side effects such as cognitive impairment and bladder inflammation.

An American Psychiatric Association report published this year says only about 370 people with depression have taken the drug in clinical trials.

Fitterer said she's aware of the potential for long-term side effects, but that she felt she had no other alternative.

"The way I was going, I was not going to make it out of it," she said.

Ketamine is known as hallucinogenic party drug Special K, but it's widely found in operating rooms and hospitals for anesthesia.

Materi said she knows ketamine has a stigma attached to it and that there are still a lot of questions about it.

"That's not a good enough reason not to offer it," she said.