Idaho mother finds relief in experimental depression treatment
SPOKANE, Wash. — Brandice Peterson is a mother of two and an EMT in Grangeville, Idaho.
She’s also battled depression for decades.
“It’s not something that I really talk about,” Peterson said. “I’ve tried to kill myself quite a few times, maybe 15, 20.”
She went to therapy, was hospitalized and tried taking medications for depression.
Nothing worked, until now.
“The last time I tried to kill myself was on a Tuesday and then eight days later I was here and I haven’t wanted to since,” Peterson said.
She and her husband drove about 340 miles roundtrip for her six ketamine infusions, done over two weeks, at the Ketamine Clinic of Spokane.
She was referred by a mental health specialist.
“On the way home, like, I laughed and I sang and I was talking to my husband. I think he cried, because, you know, he was happy,” Peterson said. “Like, I’d never really done that before.”
Peterson is one of thousands across the nation turning to ketamine to treat depression.
The FDA first approved ketamine in the 1970s to sedate patients during medical procedures. The darker side of it is known as “Special-K,” a club drug used to get high.
Tina Gordon co-founded the Ketamine Clinic of Spokane, alongside Josh Spartz and Kimber Royter. Gordon is also a board certified nurse anesthetist. She believes, with expert medical care, ketamine intravenous infusions save lives.
According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, suicide is the 10 th leading cause of death in the United States. Gordon hopes ketamine treatments will help bring that number down.
“There’s a lot of stigma about it and there is not really a lot of very short term treatment for suicidal ideation and that’s where ketamine is so amazing. It can turn that around in an hour,” Gordon said.
At the Ketamine Clinic of Spokane, located in the Perry District, each dose is measured based on the patient’s weight and administered during a session that takes 40 minutes.
Each session can cost between $400 and $800 dollars, depending on where you go. Insurance typically doesn’t cover the cost because ketamine is not FDA approved to treat depression.
The treatment is legal, but many researchers still have unanswered questions, including the potential for addiction, the safety of repeated treatments and other long term effects.
An expert group of the American Psychiatric Association published a consensus statement last year noting that patients and providers should consider the limitations of the data and potential risk associated with the drug.
She said that despite the unknowns, she’s just happy to have her life back.
“I actually want to be here tomorrow. I want to see what I can do with my life and I never had that,” Peterson said.
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