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At an Edina clinic, a controversial treatment for depression: ketamine

For more than two decades, Laura Clark has suffered from posttraumatic stress disorder. So three months ago, Dr. Gregory Simelgor hooked her to an IV in his Edina clinic for an unusual type of mental health treatment.

Over the course of two weeks, Simelgor injected Clark six times with ketamine, a drug used to anesthetize patients during surgery or other painful procedures. During infusions, Clark felt like she was floating. Sometimes, her lips and hands felt bigger than they actually were. Other times, she felt like she didn’t have hands at all. “It’s actually kind of pleasant,” she said.

For Simelgor, these sensations are a good sign: it means the ketamine is working.

In scientific terms, ketamine causes a disassociation between the brain’s frontal lobe and limbic system. But the point of the treatment isn’t what’s happening during infusion, it’s what happens later. “I want to know if it’s a good enough dose for the medication to reach your brain, reset your receptors and give you long-term benefits,” Simelgor said.