Desert Sands Ketamine offers hope, healing for Southern Utahns living with depression

Stock image | Photo by primipil/iStock/Getty Images Plus, St. George News

CONTRIBUTED CONTENT — Ketamine, administered in therapeutic doses via IV infusion, represents an optimistic new frontier in the treatment of depression and other mental health disorders.

Dr. Eric Evans and Shannon Evans, owners of Desert Sands Medical Clinics, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

At Desert Sands Ketamine Treatment Center, Dr. Eric Evans focuses on patients suffering from clinical depression, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder and clinical anxiety. Many have already tried the pharmaceutical approach with little success. 

“There is a huge need in Southern Utah,” he said. “I just want to help as many people as I can.”

Ketamine targets the amygdala, the area of the brain that plays a key role in baseline mood and emotional state. Offering lasting results, virtually no side effects and a much higher success rate than antidepressants, Evans proclaims it a “wonder drug” for treatment-resistant depression and other mood disorders.

How long will the effects last? 

Evans said there are two separate time frames to keep in mind when treating mental health disorders with ketamine. The first segment of treatment involves the patient receiving four to six ketamine infusions over a period of two to three weeks. For optimal results, the initial infusions should be administered a few days apart; this gives the ketamine the time it needs to work on the amygdala. 

“At this stage of therapy, most of our patients have had life-changing improvements in their symptoms and are now ready to move to the next phase of treatment, called the maintenance stage,” he said. 

The maintenance phase looks different for each person, Evans said. About 85-90% of patients will require an infusion once a month to once every other month in order to maintain feelings of peacefulness, mental clarity, focus, drive, contentment and calm. 

Should I continue seeing my psychiatrist? What if I don’t have a mental health provider? 

Patients find Desert Sands in a variety of ways. Some are referred by a psychiatrist, therapist or family practice physician. 

However, a referral or ongoing relationship with a mental health professional is not necessary. Evans said it doesn’t matter how a patient learns about ketamine treatment – just that they reach out and take that first step on the path to healing.  

“We’re able to provide a consultation and treatment no matter how you find us,” he said. “If after meeting with a patient, we feel they could also benefit from therapy, we do have amazing therapy and counseling services right here at Desert Sands.” 

Can I become addicted to ketamine? 

Unlike narcotics, ketamine is not a habit-forming substance. Evans said it doesn’t create a need within the patient for increased amounts of medication over time or trigger a desire to abuse the medication and seek out other ways to get it. Ketamine is administered in a controlled, clinical setting at Desert Sands rather than a prescription to take home, where it may be abused.

Interior of the Desert Sands Ketamine Treatment Center, St. George, Utah, date not specified | Photo by Sheldon Demke, St. George News

“I’m so grateful that ketamine doesn’t have those issues, because it’s nothing short of a life-saving medication for those suffering from depression, anxiety, PTSD, et cetera” Evans said.

Evans spent 15 years as the head of a chronic pain management clinic, where he encountered many patients struggling with addiction to narcotics and other forms of self-medication. Before opening Desert Sands, he spent a year and a half researching the safety and addiction potential of using ketamine for mental health disorders and visiting other ketamine clinics across the country where thousands of patients were successfully treated.

How much does ketamine treatment cost? Is it covered by health insurance?

Currently, insurance doesn’t cover ketamine treatment. Evans said he hopes this will change in the future as the drug continues to demonstrate astounding success rates in treating depression and other mental health disorders, backed by quality research from Yale University and the National Institute of Mental Health.

Evans said the pricing at Desert Sands is highly competitive. Although patients pay out-of-pocket, he said some travel from as far away as Salt Lake City, Las Vegas and Los Angeles – including gas, hotel rooms and visiting the parks – and still have money left over compared to the cost of treatment closer to home.

“We always give free consultations to see if ketamine is right for you,” he said. “Talk to your health care professional or reach out to us today, and let’s get you on the path to living the life you desire.” 

For more information or to schedule a free consultation, visit the Desert Sands Ketamine Treatment Center website or call 435-522-5190.

Written by ALEXA MORGAN for St. George News.

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