KETAMINE INFUSION FAQs
Find answers to frequently asked questions about ketamine infusion therapy, and educate yourself with facts about this life-changing depression treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions About Ketamine for Depression
What is ketamine?
Ketamine has been FDA approved as a dissociative anesthetic since the 1960s. It was originally used as a battlefield anesthetic, and as an analgesic medication in emergency situations. In the early part of this century, researchers discovered the fast-acting antidepressant qualities of ketamine. Since then, mounds of research has been performed about the use of ketamine for the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD and bipolar disorder. There is an ever-growing body of evidence in favor of the use of ketamine to treat these and other psychiatric disorders, especially in individuals who have resisted other treatment methods. For more information about the research that has been done about ketamine for depression, visit our Resources page.
Is ketamine safe?
When administered by a psychiatrist or other highly experienced clinician, ketamine is incredibly safe. Other than psychiatrists, ketamine can be safely administered by anesthesiologists, emergency physicians, and hospice doctors.
Of course, like many other important medications, in the wrong hands, ketamine can be abused recreationally. However, our ketamine clinic only administers infusions in a clinical setting and does not send patients home with ketamine prescriptions. This reduces—or even eliminates—the risk of ketamine getting into the wrong hands and being abused a street drug.
How effective is ketamine for depression?
Studies have shown that ketamine is effective in up to 70% of depressed patients, including those suffering from treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine works rapidly to alleviate depressive symptoms, manifesting positive results sometimes within hours of an infusion. Patients will know if ketamine works for them within 1-2 infusions. This is incredibly fast compared to traditional antidepressants which can take months to generate results, if they generate results at all.
Some studies have been performed about personal characteristics that may impact the efficacy of ketamine in an individual, though no conclusive information is yet available. Check in with our blog for up to date information on ketamine research!
How is ketamine for depression administered?
When receiving ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression, the most effective route of administration—by far—is intravenous (IV). When administered via IV, 100% of the ketamine reaches the bloodstream and, thus, the brain. Doctors are able to closely monitor IV ketamine, ensuring that a very calculated and precise amount is administered slowly, over a long period of time. The side effects and results are highly predictable when ketamine is administered vis IV.
There are other ways to administer ketamine for depression—intranasally, intramuscularly, orally and sublingually—though none of these methods is able to deliver the same positive results as IV ketamine. The bioavailability of ketamine, when delivered via any of these alternative routes of administration, is unpredictable and difficult to measure. IV ketamine is, without doubt, the “gold standard” for ketamine administration.
How many ketamine infusions will I need?
While every individual differs in the amount of ketamine infusions he or she will need to alleviate depressive symptoms, we recommend a series of 4-6 ketamine infusions over the course of 2-3 weeks. Serial infusions yield the best results.
After the initial series of 4-6 infusions, patients return as needed for maintenance infusions. Some patients return every few weeks while others can go months before requiring a maintenance infusion.
To increase the length of time between infusions, patients oftentimes engage in other therapeutic activities—talk therapy, exercise, involvement in hobbies, socializing, and other activities that naturally produce serotonin and can prevent a depressive relapse.
How should I prepare for my first ketamine infusion? What should I expect during the infusion?
The first step in starting ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression, anxiety or any other psychiatric condition is to have your primary care physician or mental healthcare provider complete, sign and return the Acknowledgement of Ongoing Care document. You’ll also need to complete your patient intake forms and agree to our various policies. These forms can be accessed via our Patient Portal.
Once we’ve received your forms, we will schedule an initial consultation. During your consultation, we’ll determine whether or not you’re a candidate for ketamine infusions. If we agree that you are eligible to receive infusions, you may schedule your first appointment—even for that same day.
Ketamine infusions are between 45-minutes and 1-hour long, depending on the protocol we determine based on your diagnosis and personal health information. Plan on being at our ketamine clinic for about 2-hours per infusion. On the day of your infusion, please avoid solid foods, milk, pulp-filled juices or soup for 6-hours prior to your infusion. You may drink water and other clear liquids, Gatorade, apple juice, black coffee or tea up to 2-hours before your infusion.
To begin the infusion, we will set an IV and apply monitors for your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen levels. Once all monitoring equipment is safely and accurately applied, we will begin the infusion. You will be alert and awake during your infusion, and though you will be able to interact with other people, most patients choose to relax and listen to music.
Some patients experience mild nausea, dizziness or non-threatening hallucinations during their infusion. Should you experience nausea, we are equipped to provide you with an anti-nausea medication via IV. Most side effects wear off within 2-hours of receiving your infusion.
After your infusion, we will monitor your vitals for 30-minutes and release you into the care of a friend or family member who can drive you home. We ask that you please refrain from driving for 24-hours post-infusion.
Should I discontinue use of my other medications?
No. Never stop taking prescribed medications without explicit instructions from your primary care physician or mental healthcare provider. Prior to your first ketamine infusion, we will need to review your medication list to ensure there are no contraindications with the ketamine.
Is ketamine addicting? Is it abused as a recreational drug?
It is a common myth that ketamine is addicting. Ketamine is not a physically addicting substance.
Ketamine is sometimes abused for recreational use. In these situations, ketamine can be psychologically addicting. Our ketamine clinic does not provide patients with a take home prescription for ketamine, which dramatically reduces the risk of abuse, or that the medication makes its way into the wrong hands.
REQUEST A FREE CONSULTATION
Interpersonal Advanced Treatment is happy to offer a free consultation to new patients interested in exploring the benefits of ketamine infusion therapy for the treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD and other psychiatric disorders. Our clinicians will answer any questions you have about ketamine treatments, and help point you in the direction of hope, happiness and wellness.
To request your free consultation, complete the brief form below and a member of our clinical team will contact you shortly.