What to Expect During a Ketamine Treatment?

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Ketamine has been around since the 1960s, but it has primarily been used as an anesthetic in the past. However, in recent years, ketamine treatments have increasingly been used to treat various conditions, from chronic pain to depression and anxiety. 

Ketamine And Depression

Ketamine and Depression

Shortly after the turn of the century, clinicians began exploring the use of ketamine to treat depression, particularly major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression. Traditional antidepressants focus on monoamine antidepressants, which can take weeks or months to take effect. 

Alternatively, ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist and effects BDNF and, therefore, neuronal growth. This difference in how ketamine impacts brain functions, and neural connections can explain why ketamine is an effective treatment for depression. Additionally, ketamine is a fast-acting agent and can impact depressive symptoms in as little as two or three hours after administration.

As ketamine treatments become more recognized as an effective treatment for depression, many patients are questioning whether ketamine could be used to address their depressive symptoms. Therefore, it can be helpful to understand what to expect during ketamine treatment sessions.

Understanding Ketamine Therapy

Before pursuing ketamine therapy, you will likely have an initial consultation to review your medical history, current medications, and symptoms. This information can help the clinician determine whether ketamine may help treat your condition. The clinician will also likely provide an overview of what to expect during your medicine sessions.  

The injections are administered in a clinical setting, where the patient’s vital signs, such as blood pressure, oxygen level, and heart rate, can be monitored. Next, the patient receives a ketamine injection. As the ketamine hits one’s bloodstream, the patient will feel coolness and begin to relax and may enter a dissociative state.

People often have different experiences once ketamine is administered, and the effects are highly dependent upon a person’s metabolism, previous exposure to the medicine, and dosing. However, patients commonly report the following feelings:

  • A feeling of dissociation from the body
  • Feelings of relaxation
  • Feelings of happiness or euphoria
  • Time seems slowed
  • Seeing shapes, colors, and scenarios
  • A heightened awareness of one’s body
  • Feelings of affection and gratitude
  • Stillness of the mind
  • The reliving of past experiences with different outcomes

Ketamine treatments may treat psychiatric conditions like depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, or other mood disorders, though these are off-label uses of ketamine. The patient may feel sedated during the session but is able to continue to communicate with any staff, and the medication is metabolized in 2 hours; this is why the sessions are 2 to 2.5 hours long.

Since the doses for ketamine treatments are relatively low, the effects wear off relatively quickly. However, the effects on depressive symptoms may last far longer. Many studies show remission of depressive symptoms within one-week post-treatment. Additionally, even one-time ketamine administration may lead to rapid improvement in treatment-resistant depression, potentially within a couple of hours. 

Esketamine Nasal Spray

While many patients opt for ketamine infusions, esketamine nasal spray is another option. This alternative is used for treatment-resistant depression and major depressive disorder when the patient has acute suicidal ideation. 

Ketamine has been FDA-approved as an anesthetic for decades, although it was commonly used off-label to treat depression for many years. And in 2019, nasal spray therapy became an option when the FDA approved using esketamine as a nasal spray. 

Is Ketamine Right For Me

Is Ketamine Right For Me?

Before starting ketamine injections or esketamine nasal spray, patients must understand the potential risks of using this therapy. Ketamine has long been used as a recreational drug, leading many patients to question its long-term effects on brain health and possible side effects. Side effects, when used at dosing for depression, are generally mild and commonly include nausea or mild, non-threatening hallucinations and dissociation

While ketamine therapy comes with some risks, it may be a more viable option for those with treatment-resistant depression. In addition, for many individuals, it can relieve symptoms of depression that prevent them from living their lives. For more information about ketamine treatments, contact Memor Health today. 

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