“Ember Health is one pillar in a much larger care plan; it's a complement to, not a replacement for, existing mental health care services.”
What can clients expect from their experience with Ember Health?
Ketamine infusions are a highly effective treatment for depression, and Ember Health is at the forefront of defining quality of care for the field. Over 80% of the patients we’ve worked with in our practice have reported feeling relief from their symptoms, and more than 60% have gone into full remission of their depression following their initial treatments.
At Ember Health, we follow guidelines on dosage and duration from the American Psychiatric Association which recommends a foundational treatment of four 40-minute infusions over two weeks. We administer boosters as depressive symptoms recur, typically somewhere between once every two and 12 weeks. By coordinating directly with the patient's existing mental health team, we help our patients strengthen and deepen the relationships they have with their trusted providers.
What’s the story behind Ember Health? How did you become interested in ketamine therapy?
I started my medical career in international public health, which led me into acute care and emergency medicine. After spending time in emergency rooms across the country, I grew frustrated by how frequently we are treating the acute symptoms of mental health without helping people with more sustained, long term solutions.
While in the emergency room, I was regularly administering ketamine to patients as an anesthetic and knew it to be an extremely safe medication for sedation. As part of my work, I was also constantly being exposed to new research into ketamine’s efficacy for other conditions, including depression. Over 200 clinical trials have explored ketamine's positive impact on depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, anxiety, and pain.
The consensus in the literature — that three out of four patients realize relief of depressive symptoms from ketamine infusions, compared to 30% from traditional SSRIs — inspired us to start Ember Health and provide this much-needed relief to fellow New Yorkers.
How does collaboration with other providers play into your work?
Ketamine is one pillar in a much larger care plan; it's a complement to, not a replacement for, existing mental health care services. We collaborate with our mental health provider partners — therapists, psychologists, psychiatrists, and primary care physicians — to ensure that people who would benefit most from ketamine are seeking our support, and we tailor treatment plans to match individual needs.
Key in this collaboration is ensuring that each partner provider understands that ketamine works best when paired with regular ongoing psychotherapy. Our services and their therapy are mutually supportive and reinforcing. We work to ensure that therapist partners have the knowledge and tools they need to help their clients advance their goals after each ketamine session. We also share relevant research and individual patient efficacy data with providers and engage in regular communications to help each person define the role of ketamine in their long term wellbeing.
Who is ketamine therapy for and what’s the value they seek from treatment at Ember Health?
The American Psychiatric Association lists a wide spectrum of conditions that may be addressed through infusions of ketamine, from depression to PTSD and chronic pain. At Ember Health, we focus on helping patients with depression and the depressed state of bipolar disorder. We work with providers to determine if ketamine is appropriate and safe for their patients, and we personally evaluate all patients prior to starting treatment with us.
For eligible patients, ketamine can deeply improve quality of life, even when other treatments haven’t worked. For people who have been previously hospitalized due to their mental health or suffer from suicidal thinking, ketamine offers a lifeline. For people who feel blunted by their SSRIs and remain deeply unhappy on their existing medications, ketamine can help achieve the depression-free life they are seeking and help them to wean off of their existing pharmacotherapy, if that is one of their goals.
What excites you most about the evolving mental health landscape?
In March 2019, the FDA approved the first ketamine product to treat depression, formally acknowledging it as the first new class of medications for depression in 30 years. This represents a major advancement in our understanding of the brain, depression, and how we manage mental health. Whereas SSRIs are based on the chemical imbalance theory of depression, ketamine has helped shed light on the neural circuit theory of depression. This model is based on restoring and realigning thought pathways and increasing neuroplasticity to break negative rumination cycles. These advancements are deepening our understanding and awareness of the powerful potential and versatility of ketamine and its derivatives.
We are excited to continue to grow and contribute to these scientific developments, while also ensuring that this highly efficacious treatment is available safely for our clients today.
“Over 80 percent of the patients we’ve worked with in our practice have reported feeling relief from their depressive symptoms, and more than 60 percent have gone into full remission of their depression following their initial treatments.”