SEAN SPENCER WAS ready to give up. For two years, since suffering a major panic attack, the entrepreneur had been living under a cloud of depression. Nothing seemed to make it better. He took traditional antidepressants, but they made him “want to die.” Meditation gave him a fleeting sense of relief, but it wasn’t enough to get him through the day. Out of desperation, he finally traveled to a clinic to try a controversial new therapy: ketamine IV infusions.
At the Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles, anesthesiologist Steven Mandel has given more than 4,000 infusions over the past four years. “The other antidepressants take weeks to months to have an effect. Ketamine kicks in within hours,” he says. “It works on people that nothing else has worked on.” According to the National Institutes of Health, up to a third of those suffering from depression don’t respond to prescription antidepressants like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors—and people like Spencer, desperate for new options, are seeking out ketamine clinics.