COVID-19 2020-04-24T14:32:47-06:00

It goes without saying that COVID-19 is on the minds of nearly every American. The societal and economic disruption is almost without precedent. As government officials and clinicians wrestle with issues of how to protect the public, there seem to be more questions than answers. The mental health effects of COVID-19 are as important to address as are the physical health effects. Social isolation, school closures, lack of structure, financial difficulties, and unemployment are among the many stressors related to COVID-19 that have significant impacts on mental well-being.

In a national survey conducted by Axios, 29% said their emotional well-being had gotten worse. Chris Walden, co-founder of Ketamine Media, reports that online searches for anxiety treatment, depression treatment and searches pertaining to suicide, have increased at a rapid pace. In addition, Noah Heller, co-founder of MoodMonitor, has noted that the number of patients reporting thoughts of wanting to inflict self-harm via a depression rating tool, the PHQ-9, has significantly increased. Research has shown that suicidal ideation reported on the PHQ-9 was a robust predictor of suicide attempts and deaths. In addition, there is significant literature establishing a strong link between unemployment and higher suicide rates. Additionally, National Suicide Prevention Hotline calls have gone up 300% since the onset of this pandemic.

Many studies have demonstrated the robust and rapid antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects of ketamine, especially in a treatment resistant population. Awareness and access to this valuable treatment will be increasingly important as unprecedented stressors increase the rate of depression and suicide in the coming months.

The American Society of Ketamine Physicians has been at the forefront of advocating for patients who have benefited from this forward-leaning therapy. Ketamine therapy is an essential service that cannot be interrupted during this crisis.

Actions you can now take to help: 

Appropriate Precautions

Taking appropriate precautions while continuing to treat patients in an outpatient setting is imperative. As health care providers we must put the health and safety of not only ourselves, but our patients and staff as our top priority.

To help mitigate the risk consider: 

  • Screening each patient the evening or morning before arrival to the clinic for recent travel, known exposure to infected individuals, travel, fever, cough, or other symptoms. Recall up to 80% of infected individuals may not have symptoms yet still shed the virus. Each practitioner will use their best judgment based on known information.

  • Screening any person who will be accompanying the patient in the office

  • Screening each person on arrival for fever, cough, evidence of infection

  • Spreading out appointment times in clinic to minimize number of people at any one time

  • On arrival all visitors wash their hands or use sanitizer dispensed by office personal

  • Providing each patient a new pen, or sanitized pen for paperwork

  • Sanitizing rooms and equipment with hospital grade disinfectant wipes after each use, including light switches and door handles

  • Patients are encouraged to bring their own blankets, pillows or magazines as these items cannot be supplied

  • An appropriate distance will be maintained for those patients and family members in the waiting room if they must accompany patient inside, such as with a minor

  • Highly encouraging family members to wait outside or in their car to reduce the number of people in the clinic

  • Rescheduling patients with certain health issues or advanced age for their safety

  • Postponing patients who are doing well and on maintenance treatments if possible. Each practitioner and patient must perform their own risk/benefit analysis.

  • Using telemedicine for therapy and KAP sessions when possible

  • Waiving charges for cancellations or missed appointments related to illness

  • Transitioning some patients to oral ketamine who are appropriately screened to avoid in office visits. Please refer to our webinars on 03/24/2020 and 11/28/2018 where ASKP discusses oral ketamine dosing, found on this page.

  • If a staff member or patient tests positive for COVID-19, quarantine appropriate people, notify those exposed, and possibly shut down clinic with referral of urgent patients to other ketamine providers