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Anesthesiologist opens office to treat PTSD, depression

Dr. Gary Lawson founded RiKai Therapeutics to treat a variety of depression, chronic pain and addiction conditions.

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  • | 6:00 a.m. April 29, 2019
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NAPLES — RiKai Therapeutics, a private practice specializing in ketamine infusion therapy for epidemic and debilitating conditions, recently opened at 11161 Health Park Blvd. in Naples.

The practice was founded by Dr. Gary Lawson, a board-certified anesthesiologist with 15 years of experience in ambulatory and general anesthesiology, including 10 years as an anesthesiologist in the U.S. Navy. He is chief medical officer of Moonlight Anesthesia in Fort Myers and Naples, as well as Quantum Anesthesia in Sarasota, according to a statement. 

At RiKai Therapeutics, Lawson administers sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine through an IV and prompts antidepressant effects via an interaction of brain receptors and chemicals. Patients are monitored with a portable pulse oximetry — which measures the oxygen level of the blood — as well as non-invasive blood pressure and heart rate monitors. The therapy is an average of six treatments per patient over two to three weeks, with each treatment lasting approximately 45 minutes.

Patients who qualify have typically been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, severe or chronic depression, postpartum depression, major depressive disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder or other mood disorders; as well as opioid dependence, chronic pain, fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome, among others.

 “In the early 2000s, research began to show that patients who were resistant to depression treatment or suffered from anything from PTSD to opioid addiction to suicidality could be effectively treated. That’s when anesthesiologists began opening clinics like RiKai Therapeutics,” says Lawson in a statement. “Here, I educate individuals on the psychological benefits of ketamine infusion therapy and help them build a life based on health, wellness and long-lasting happiness rather than drugs, pain and depression.”

(This story was updated to reflect Dr. Lawson's name and one of his current jobs.)


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