Ketamine Infusion FAQ

Get answers to commonly asked questions about ketamine infusions and how they work to treat depression and chronic pain.

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Ketamine Infusion FAQ

Many people have questions about ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression and chronic pain. How does it work? Is it safe? What conditions does it help treat? Review our ketamine infusion FAQ page for answers to these and other common questions about ketamine for depression and pain.

What is ketamine?

Ketamine was originally introduced as a dissociative anesthetic and painkiller in the 1960s, used most frequently on battlefields and in acute emergency situations. Since then, it has been added to the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines because of its wide range of pain management and sedation applications.

In the early part of this century, researchers discovered the antidepressant effects of ketamine. Study after study has continued to reinforce the effectiveness of ketamine as an antidepressant, proving that ketamine works to repair damaged neural connections and promote the development of new, healthy neural connections. Today, ketamine infusions are known as one of the most effective treatments available to those suffering from severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions.

Is ketamine safe?

In the hands of a qualified clinician, ketamine is very safe. It has been used as an anesthetic and painkiller since the 1960s, and has been offered by private ketamine clinics for the treatment of depression for years now. When administered by a trained professional, ketamine is highly effective for the treatment of psychiatric conditions and pain.

Of course, like many other medications that offer immense benefits to suffering patients, ketamine can be abused if it finds its way into the wrong hands. Our ketamine clinic does not offer take-home doses of ketamine—we only administer ketamine in a closely-monitored clinical setting, thereby dramatically reducing the risk of abuse.

How does ketamine work?

Scientists are still studying ketamine in an effort to determine the exact mechanism that makes it such an effective antidepressant. Recently, researchers have unveiled new evidence about how ketamine works—by moving G-proteins in the brain, thereby enabling better communication between healthy brain cells. Of course, this is a very brief explanation of how ketamine works. For more information about the latest ketamine news and research, please visit our Resources page.

More traditional antidepressants also work to move G-proteins in the brain. The big difference is that ketamine works within 15 minutes, where oral antidepressant medications can take 2-3 months to work. Ketamine is effective in 70% of patients, where antidepressant medications are only effective for about 40% of patients.

Ketamine has emerged as a true wonder drug, capable of alleviating depressive symptoms in patients who have not responded to any other method of treatment.

How is ketamine for depression administered?

The most effective way to administer ketamine for depression is intravenously. IV ketamine infusions trigger the best biological response, as the medication can be delivered at a slow and precise rate and 100% of the medication ultimately reaches the bloodstream and brain. Also, IV ketamine is administered in a clinical setting under close supervision from qualified doctors and nurses. This prevents ketamine from getting into the wrong hands where it could be abused recreationally.

Ketamine can also be administered intramuscularly, intranasally, orally, or sublingually. However, these routes of administration can be unpredictable, as the amount of ketamine that actually reaches the brain and bloodstream varies from patient to patient. This can result in undesirable side effects, not to mention less effective relief of depressive symptoms.

What are the side effects of a ketamine infusion?

The side effects of ketamine infusions are generally mild and short-lived, subsiding about 2-hours post-infusion. Side effects include nausea, dissociation and mild, non-threatening hallucinations. Our ketamine clinic can supplement your ketamine infusion with an anti-nausea medication if you experience nausea during your infusion.

Will ketamine work for me?

Ketamine is proven to improve depressive symptoms in about 70% of patients—a truly astounding statistic, especially considering that most antidepressants are only effective in about 40% of patients. Ketamine is also effective in treatment-resistant situations, when other medications or therapies are ineffective. Researchers are working to determine personal characteristics that may indicate whether ketamine will or won’t be effective for a particular individual. But with a 70% success rate, ketamine infusions are certainly worth a try. Most patients know whether ketamine will work after only 1-2 infusions.

What should I expect during my first ketamine infusion?

Once you’ve submitted your patient intake forms, we will schedule an initial consultation to discuss your unique needs and determine the proper ketamine infusion treatment plan for you. If we believe that you are a good candidate for ketamine infusions, we will go ahead and schedule your first appointment—oftentimes for the same day.

On the day of your infusion, please refrain from eating solid foods, milk, pulp-filled juices or soup for at least six hours prior to your appointment. You may enjoy water and other clear liquids, Gatorade, apple juice, black coffee or tea up to two hours prior to your appointment.

For ketamine infusions for depression, plan to be at our clinic for about 2-hours. For chronic pain infusions, plan to be at our clinic for one hour longer than your scheduled infusion time.

At the start of your infusion, we will apply monitors and set an IV. Once we begin the ketamine infusion, you will be awake and able to interact with others, though most patients choose to relax and listen to music. During your infusion, you may experience mild side effects, such as dizziness, subtle and non-threatening hallucinations, or nausea. We are equipped to supplement your infusion with an anti-nausea medication should you need it.

After your infusion, we will monitor you for about 30-minutes, and then release you into the care of a friend or family member who can drive you home. Though the side effects of ketamine infusions generally wear off within 2-hours, we do ask that you please not drive for 24-hours.

How many ketamine infusions will I need?

Each patient varies in regards to how many ketamine infusions he or she needs to effectively treat depressive or pain symptoms. In general, we recommend 4-6 infusions over the course of 2-weeks, with maintenance infusions on an as needed basis moving forward. Studies have shown that serial infusions are the most effective way to depression and other psychiatric disorders. A similar ketamine infusion treatment plan in recommended for chronic pain patients, though each patient will require a unique protocol depending on his or her needs.

Can I continue taking my regular medications?

You should never discontinue the use of any medication without first consulting your primary care physician. Before we make your first ketamine infusion appointment, we will review your list of current medications and ensure there are no contraindications.

Is ketamine a recreational drug? Is it addictive?

Like many other medications, ketamine can be abused for recreational use. When used recreationally, it used in doses much higher than anything we would administer at our ketamine clinic.

Contrary to popular belief, ketamine is not a physically addictive substance. When abused recreationally, it can become psychologically addicting.

Our ketamine clinic only administers ketamine in a clinical setting under constant supervision. Ketamine is not provided to patients as a take-home medication or prescription, reducing the risk of ketamine making it into the wrong hands.

Is ketamine a horse tranquilizer?

Ketamine, like many other valuable medications, has many uses. One of those uses is as a veterinary anesthetic. Again, these medications are used in a much different manner than they are when administered to humans for the treatment of depression or chronic pain.

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Ketamine infusions are effective in up to 70% of patients. They bring hope to those suffering from debilitating psychiatric and chronic pain conditions, such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, CRPS, fibromyalgia, migraine headaches and more. If you or a loved one is struggling with any of these conditions, ketamine infusions may work where other treatments have failed. Request a free consultation and let our experienced team of clinicians get you started on your journey towards health and wellness.