Ketamine is an intravenous infusion that results in a healing change in the brain. Studies have shown that 80% of patients experience significant symptom improvement during the first several infusions.
Ketamine can help with:
- Panic disorder
- Bipolar disorder
- Postpartum depression
- Suicidal thoughts (no recent attempt)
- Chronic pain
- Chronic regional pain syndrome
- Enhance the work you may be doing with your counselor or psychologist
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine was first developed as an anesthesia medicine for animals in the 1960s. Ketamine was approved by the FDA for human use in 1970 as an anesthetic, and quickly became used on the battlefields of the Vietnam War to treat wounded soldiers. Ketamine is unique in that it does not slow breathing or heart rates the way most other anesthetics do. Emergency responders may use ketamine to help calm agitated patients and/or patients that have suicidal ideation. In 2019, the FDA approved ketamine to treat depression, and it is increasingly used to treat chronic mood and pain disorders.
Ketamine causes a dissociative experience, whereas one feels outside of the body, and it can experience feelings of unreality and altered sensory perceptions. Because of this, and some euphoria or a “buzz”, it became a popular club drug for some time, frequently called Special K or Vitamin K.
Ketamine has seen a resurgence as an anesthetic due to its pain management qualities, and it has also seen recent research in other areas of treatment such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. It is being used in clinics to help with treatment resistant mental health issues and chronic pain issues, using protocols that involve slow infusions of ketamine under medical direction with vital sign monitoring.
Studies have shown that 80% of patients experience significant symptom improvement during the first several infusions.
What does ketamine treatment entail?
Research supports the ideal protocol for mental health treatment begins with a series of six treatments over three weeks (two per week). Each infusion is about 45 minutes, during which time the patient is monitored and watched closely by a physician anesthesiologist experienced in surgical anesthesia and trained for emergencies. The infusions are typically very safe with very rare complications, but patients must be monitored closely.
The patient gets a small IV in a vein in the arm or hand, and then gets comfortable during the infusion. Patients often bring a blanket and music to help relax. Patients report warm feeling, mild sedation, dissociation, or losing awareness of one’s body, and occasionally hallucinations. Common mild side effects include nausea and headache.
Following the infusion, there is a short recovery period during which vital signs are monitored and the patient’s mental status returns to normal prior to discharge. It is important not to eat or drink anything for several hours prior to the treatment, and to have a ride home afterwards. Patients can experience improvement in mood symptoms within hours of the first treatment.
Typically, treatment involves 6-12 infusions, two per week, during the first month or two, with most patients responding well after the first six treatments. The effects are cumulative and long-lasting, but some patients will return for occasional booster treatments depending on symptoms. For about one-third of patients, the initial series of infusions is adequate and they don’t need boosters. Ketamine does not cause any long-term side effects and is not addictive with how we deliver it here at in2GREAT.