Home » Business » Job diary: I'm an LA doctor who runs a ketamine-infusion therapy program to help people overcome depression, anxiety, and trauma
Job diary: I'm an LA doctor who runs a ketamine-infusion therapy program to help people overcome depression, anxiety, and trauma
David Mahjoubi, MD, 42, is an anesthesiologist based in Los Angeles, California.
He founded the Ketamine Healing Clinic of Los Angeles in 2014, and says that despite the drug's reputation as an illegal party drug, its use in controlled medical settings can help patients battling depression, anxiety, and trauma.
Before accepting a new patient, Dr. Mahjoubi says they need to have first tried other anti-anxiety or depression medication in the past. He also recommends that patients pair the ketamine treatment with regular therapy appointments.
Dr. Mahjoubi says he's never seen a patient experience withdrawal symptoms, but adds he has had to stop prescribing ketamine nasal spray when patients overuse it.
He says he hopes his clinic can help dispel the negative myths around ketamine, and set a precedent for the therapeutic benefits of psychedelics.
Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
While I was in anesthesia residency at the University of Southern California Hospital's Department of Anesthesiology from 2006 to 2009, I learned how to put people under for surgery using an anesthetic called ketamine. Afterwards, as I began work as an anesthesiologist at a hospital, I began hearing interesting things about the anesthetic.
Researchers had begun testing it as a treatment for mental health conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD — and with encouraging results. Having had friends and family members who suffered from depression, and knowing rates of depression and anxiety in the US were rising, I saw an opportunity to use my training in anesthesiology in a new, impactful way.
Ketamine is a dissociative drug, which means it helps you detach from your body and surroundings, often providing a wider perspective on the problems you're dealing with.
A post shared by Ketamine Healing Clinic L.A. (@dr._farzad_david_mahjoubi_md)
It also has psychedelic properties, so people can gain insight into their lives and even have mystical experiences on it. One study found that it reduced symptoms of depression and anxiety in patients with severe depression, both immediately after it was administered and as well as a month down the line. Another found that it even provided relief from chronic pain that lasted for up to two weeks after treatment.
In 2014, inspired by findings like these and conversations with psychiatrists who were beginning to incorporate ketamine into their practices, I founded the Ketamine Healing Clinic of Los Angeles. Since ketamine has been available for medical use in California for over 50 years, I didn't face any legal issues beyond typical medical requirements.
Our ketamine supplier is Henry Schein, a medical supply company that serves as a middleman between doctors and manufacturers. I knew very little about marketing when I started my clinic, so to start getting customers, I hired an SEO company to make sure we showed up in Google searches and to run ads on social media. Soon, people were referring us to their family and friends.
Nowadays, we see about six or seven patients a day, and I devote most of my time to the clinic, while also spending several hours a week working as an anesthesiologist at LA's Mission Community Hospital and various surgical centers. We've particularly seen a rise in demand for our clinic services since COVID-19, likely due to the struggles people are having with quarantine.
Read more: Kevin O'Leary of 'Shark Tank': Why I'm betting big on psychedelics, and how investors should be thinking about this opportunity
Anyone can call us if they're interested in our treatment — they don't need a referral — but they need to have first tried other anti-anxiety or depression medication or seen a therapist or psychologist in the past.