SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – For years, Dani Martinelli of Carpinteria would wake up feeling broken.
“Being in a low depressive state to the point where I couldn’t work … I was losing relationships … financial gains … was the first time in my life that … I actually felt mentally ill," said Martinelli.
Martinelli experienced depression for as long as she could remember.
“Been part of my story for basically my whole life … wasn’t new to anxiety, but I’ve always been able to utilize tools to manage … until I hit a breaking point where life was in danger," said Martinelli.
Like many, the Carpinteria resident turned to western medication for depression.
“Additional like mood stabilizers, since I was 28 and just with you know … from the physician ... psychiatrist … just with knowing that I would be on them for the rest of my life … and it just wasn’t working," said Martinelli.
After exhausting all familiar options, Martinelli turned to a decades-old surgical drug known as ketamine.
“Ketamine is a legal medicine used in hospitals in the 70’s but at the right dose it creates a very powerful experience in the conscious state," said physician and psychedelic medical professional Dr. Remi Drozd of Lucid Therapeutics in Santa Barbara.
While ketamine is not FDA approved for the treatment of any psychiatric disorder, prescriptions for the drug have soared as a treatment for pain, depression, anxiety and other conditions.
“That’s right now at $3.1 billion market that’s expected to grow to 6.9 billion in 2030 growing … at a rate more than 10 percent compounded annually," said psychiatrist and cofounder Dr. Michael Mantz of Santa Barbara Integrative Psychiatry.
Health specialists at local ketamine therapy businesses including Elevate Her Psychiatry and Lucid Therapeutics say the number of clients asking for the treatment is skyrocketing.
“We’ve probably tripled in our volume in the past year ... we’ve hired many more staff ... and expanding our space. We have five treatment rooms," said Drozd.
Doctors at Lucid Therapeutics hope more people learn about the impacts of ketamine therapy.
“I was doctor for 15 years and I transitioned into this because I saw that there was a very little resources for people in mental health. I saw how effective this was ... it was undeniable," said Drozd.
But doctors also warn ketamine therapy is not for everyone, and there are questions raised over this trending method.
According to the FDA, safety concerns include risks of sedation, increases in blood pressure and respiratory depression.
“People who are seeking for this type of therapy … be ready to do their research … and also practitioners who are doing this also be more mindful … PTSD in particular … it needs extra care you know … what does that aftercare look like," said psychiatric nurse practitioner Samantha Lau of Elevate Her Psychiatry in Montecito.
While the FDA warns patients and health care providers about potential risks with compounded ketamine products, Martinelli believes its impact has affected her life for the better.
“What that looks like to the outside world is … I am working again. I’m attracting abundance. I wake up feeling hopeful for the day and that sense of joy. I’m living. I’m networking. I’m getting out there," said Martinelli.
For more information on the effects of ketamine, visit: https://www.fda.gov/drugs/human-drug-compounding/fda-warns-patients-and-health-care-providers-about-potential-risks-associated-compounded-ketamine