Ketamine infusion therapy is one of the leading experimental therapies used to treat major depressive disorder, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Tragically, millions of patients around the world suffer from severe depression but are resistant to conventional treatment options. However, ketamine infusion provides a glimmer of hope.
Since ketamine infusion therapy has yet to receive formal approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is little information available to the public regarding this treatment option. Understandably, there are many members of the public who are confused about the ketamine treatment process, its efficacy ratings, and its associated risks.
To help clear the air when it comes to ketamine infusion therapy, we put together this in-depth guide to everything there is to know about this exciting new treatment option. If you want to know more about this potentially lifesaving therapy, read on and discover the various benefits and advantages of ketamine infusion therapy.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Despite a large body of research having been produced in recent years on ketamine therapies, the public has been left out in the dark when it comes to the details of this therapy method. Below, we answered some of your most pressing questions about ketamine infusions and their many benefits for treating mood disorders and mental illnesses.
What Is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a medicinal substance used for inducing anesthetic effects in its users. When administered in clinical doses, ketamine provides pain relief and sedation. Therefore, it is a valuable tool for treating chronic pain or for use in intensive care units. Ketamine was first discovered in 1962 and was approved for use in the United States eight years later.
What Does Ketamine Infusion Treat?
Aside from its value as a general anesthetic, ketamine is used to directly treat major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), among other pain-related illnesses and mood disorders.
Is Ketamine Safe?
Yes. The supervised use of ketamine in a clinical setting has been demonstrated to be safe after years of therapeutic applications and exploratory research. Multiple studies have shown that it is safe for use as an acute treatment method for severe depression, mental health,obsessive-compulsive disorder, and suicidality. Plus, ketamine lacks the long discontinuation times that frontline antidepressant medications have.
Is Ketamine “Horse Tranquilizer”?
Originally, ketamine was designed for human use. However, there are many effective applications of ketamine outside of human use, especially in the domain of veterinary medicine. Consequently, ketamine has caught on among the veterinary community as a surgical anesthetic. It is not a “tranquilizer” but rather an anesthetic used for large mammal species.
How Long Does Ketamine Last?
How long ketamine remains active in your system will ultimately depend on your unique physical characteristics. Most patients find that their first infusion of ketamine will provide relief from physical symptoms for several days. With the somatic alleviation comes an uplift in mood that can last months or even years afterward.
Those who suffer from chronic depression are often held back by self-defeating thoughts that have been ingrained over long periods of time. After one administration of ketamine, patients are relieved of these symptoms for the first time in years, which can have long-term positive effects on one’s well-being.
How Many Infusions Are Necessary?
Most ketamine clinics administer no less than two infusions for new patients. The number of infusions you receive will depend on the severity of your mood disorder and your medical history. Many clinics begin by administering two infusions three or four days apart from each other. From there, the doctor will determine whether subsequent infusions are necessary.
What Should I Expect During a Ketamine Infusion?
New patients can expect to be sitting in a reclining chair during the infusion treatment between 45 minutes and a full hour. You will not lose consciousness during your experience, but you may feel mild to moderate sedation and pain-alleviating effects. Some patients report a distorted perception of light and color, among other unusual sensory experiences.
In most cases, ketamine infusion patients leave the clinic within a half hour of administration. However, patients suffering from severe acute illnesses pay to require up to several hours of supervision before being discharged. On-site medical staff will ensure that you are comfortable and safe before you leave the clinic.
Do I Need to Bring Someone to my Ketamine Infusions?
Many clinics require someone to be present during your discharge so you can be safely escorted home. While some patients prefer to have a loved one present during the infusion procedure to make them more comfortable, this is not mandatory in most clinics.
Can I Take Other Medication While Receiving Ketamine Infusions?
While most medications are perfectly safe to use with ketamine infusions, there are several contraindicated medications that cannot be taken before, during, or after your ketamine treatment. This is especially true of the benzodiazepine class of anti-anxiety medications. You may need to skip a dose in the run-up to your ketamine infusion if you take these medicines.
Common benzodiazepines include Ativan (Lorazepam), Xanax (Alprazolam), Klonopin (Clonazepam), and Valium (Diazepam). Talk to the supervising doctor at the ketamine infusion clinic about how to best approach taking these medications around your treatment. Conventional SSRIs and tricyclics are safe to use with ketamine.
The Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy
There are myriad benefits of taking ketamine infusion therapy as opposed to other frontline chronic pain medications. Here are some of the primary advantages that ketamine infusion has over other leading treatment options.
According to research conducted by a team at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, ketamine infusion therapies led to antidepressant benefits within 24 hours of administration. This is in stark contrast to other treatment methods, which sometimes take months to reach their full effect.
A breakthrough 2014 study indicates that anesthetic ketamine use has anti-inflammatory effects at critical sites in the body. This conclusion is derived from a 3-month follow-up diagnostic survey.
Studies have shown that ketamine infusions work. Up to 40% of patients with major depressive disorder report having shown adequate to good pain relief after receiving treatment, which is much higher than other frontline treatment options.