Subanesthetic refers to a dose of an anesthesia drug that is lower than the dose required to achieve complete anesthesia. Anesthesia is the complete resistance to pain induced by medications, usually for surgery. Subanesthetic doses of ketamine (an anesthesia drug) have been studied for mood disorder and chronic pain treatment.

Ketamine is a type of drug called an N-Methyl-D-Aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. It blocks the chemical NMDA in your brain, preventing transmission of signals that cause pain. Ketamine’s been used as an anesthesia drug for decades.

Subanesthetic ketamine therapy shows promise as an alternative to opioid pain medications. It has also been FDA-approved to treat depression.

Subanesthetic Ketamine For Depression

Subanesthetic ketamine has also been widely studied as a depression treatment and has shown to reduce suicidal ideation in studies. Ketamine has been hailed as an alternative depression treatment with fast-acting results. Ketamine and its counterpart, esketamine, have emerged as powerful options for those with treatment resistant depression.

Subanesthetic ketamine infusions for depression are usually administered intravenously in a controlled medical setting. Subanesthetic ketamine doses are low enough so as not to induce full anesthesia. Subanesthetic ketamine may or may not produce hallucinations or changes in perception during treatment.

Subanesthetic ketamine is ideally preceded and followed by integration therapy, which allows patients to incorporate lessons from their treatment and make sure the antidepressant effects of ketamine therapy last. Integration (either self-led or with a qualified therapist) can involve journaling or talking about your subanesthetic ketamine experience — and helps to fully integrate what you’ve learned into your daily life.