Ketamine got its start in Belgium in the 1960s as an anesthesia medicine for animals. The FDA approved it as an anesthetic for people in 1970. It was used in treating injured soldiers on the battlefields in the Vietnam War.
Ketamine comes in several forms. The only one that the FDA has approved as a medication for depression is a nasal spray called esketamine (Spravato). It’s for adults who either haven’t been helped by antidepressant pills, have major depressive disorder, or are suicidal. They continue on their antidepressant and receive esketamine at a doctor’s office or in a clinic, where a health care provider watches over them for 2 hours after the dose.