Ketamine Therapy: Frequently Asked Questions
The Most Common Questions about Ketamine Therapy, Answered
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a very common anesthetic with a good safety profile. If you’ve ever had a surgery that required anesthesia, your provider likely utilized Ketamine.
However, recent research has shown uses for Ketamine beyond anesthesia.
Ketamine can positively affect the brain by triggering the creation of new synapses between neurons in a process called synaptogenesis. In this way, Ketamine can actually improve the way information travels through the brain – which can help treat serious mental illnesses like depression and PTSD.
What is Ketamine Therapy?
In this type of therapy, the Ketamine doses are much lower, so that the patient doesn’t lose consciousness. Instead, patients typically experience deep body relaxation combined with active, free-flowing thoughts. During the ketamine IV infusion, Ketamine begins working to build new connections in the brain.
Because Ketamine can have immediate effects on the brain, Ketamine Therapy typically provides much quicker results than other mental health treatments like antidepressant medications. Ketamine Therapy typically starts working almost immediately – sometimes even within minutes (though every patient responds differently). Comparatively, antidepressants can take 4 to 8 weeks to begin functioning, and may be less effective with more severe side effects.
Ketamine has also shown success in treating cases of treatment-resistant depression, where medications had little effect.
How does Ketamine treat depression?
Ketamine triggers a process called synaptogenesis, or the creation of new synaptic connections between neurons in the brain. It does this by increasing the activity of a specific neurotransmitter called glutamate, which in turn stimulates the creation of new synapses.
This process can help significantly ease depression and other mental illness symptoms.
Antidepressant medications perform essentially the same function, but they first act on serotonin levels. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for stabilizing mood and sparking happiness, among other functions. Increasing serotonin ultimately increases the activity of glutamate, but it takes much longer to reach the same effect – usually two to four weeks but sometimes more. Because Ketamine affects glutamate directly, the results are more instantaneous. Ketamine has also been effective in treating depression that is resistant to antidepressant medication and other traditional treatments.
In addition, Ketamine blocks a receptor called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA), which leads to some of the initial depression relief. A metabolized version of Ketamine can stay in the system and extend the effect.
I'm already in therapy and/or taking medication — can Ketamine Therapy still help?
Yes. Ketamine treatment typically works well alongside other mental health therapies. In fact, pairing Ketamine treatment with mental health counseling and other treatments can produce better results than any one therapy alone.
Prior to your treatment, your Defy Medical provider will go over any medications you’re taking to make sure they won’t interfere with the treatment. Ketamine Therapy is typically an ideal option because it is considered to be very safe and effective for most patients.
Is there anyone who shouldn't receive Ketamine IV infusions?
Ketamine treatment has an excellent safety profile. However, it is recommended that people with the following health conditions avoid Ketamine treatment:
- Certain heart or cardiovascular conditions
- Liver disease
- Substance abuse disorders
- Certain psychotic disorders, including a history of drug abuse or dependency on Ketamine
- Pregnant and breast-feeding mothers
- High blood pressure — though patients with hypertension may be considered for treatment on a case-by-case basis
- People with a history of benzodiazepine abuse or a legitimate long-term benzodiazepine protocol may find Ketamine Therapy to be less effective. Sometimes coming off of the medication can improve the therapy’s effects.
Speak with Defy Medical directly to discuss your situation and see if Ketamine IV infusions may work for you. Every patient is different, so an individualized approach is best.
Is there anything I need to do to prepare for my session?
Before your treatment, a Defy Medical provider will have an in-depth consultation with you to go over your health history, goals for treatment, the condition you’re seeking to treat, and more. Your provider will review any medications you’re taking to make sure the therapy is as safe and effective as possible for you. Your provider may advise you to pause taking medications or supplements that could interfere with your Ketamine IV infusion, depending on your individual situation.
To get the most out of this consult, we recommend researching Ketamine treatment beforehand and coming prepared with any questions you wish to ask. You can discuss any concerns, as well, so that you feel confident and informed moving forward.
How is Ketamine Therapy administered?
Ketamine is given through intravenous (IV) treatments. The number of treatments is based on your individual needs and the condition you’re seeking to treat. During the therapy session, you will be seated in a comfortable reclining chair with an eye mask and headphones that play calming music. If you experience nausea, a supplemental medication can easily be added to your IV to help ease this side effect.
A standard Ketamine IV session usually lasts 40 minutes to one hour. You may experience dizziness and lightheadedness after the treatment, which should begin to dissipate within 15 minutes (though could last as long as a a few hours). We require you to have someone to drive you home, and we do not recommend driving again until you have received a good night’s sleep.
How many sessions do I need?
Ketamine Therapy is individualized based on your needs. Your Defy Medical provider will discuss with you your unique situation and decide on a therapy protocol based on your goals. Research shows that weekly to monthly Ketamine treatments can significantly impact treatment-resistant depression and other conditions.
What else can I do to help my condition?
Ketamine Therapy is an innovative new treatment that shows promise in treating serious and life-interrupting conditions.
However, like most treatments, it works best when paired with lifestyle changes and other mental health therapies. Here are some other things you can incorporate into your treatment plan:
- Counseling and talk therapy
- Steady sleep
- Healthy eating
- Meditation and mindfulness
You can also consider hormone optimization if appropriate. Hormonal imbalance can lead to symptoms of depression and mood swings, along with sleeplessness. If you already experience these symptoms, a hormone deficiency can make them more pronounced. Living with chronic stress can also affect hormone levels and push your body out of balance.
Hormone optimization through Testosterone Replacement Therapy and Biodientical Hormone Replacement Therapy can complement Ketamine treatment and increase the chances of long-term success.
What are the possible side effects of Ketamine?
Ketamine Therapy is considered safe and effective when administered by trained medical providers.
As with any therapy, though, there are risks and potential side effects. These include: fast heartbeat, increased blood pressure, clear dreams that may seem real, confusion, irritability, floating sensation, feeling “out-of-body,” breathing problems, coughing, nausea, vomiting, muscle twitching, muscle jerks, muscle tension, increased saliva (spit), increased thirst, headaches, metallic taste, constipation, and blurry or double vision. Rare side effects include: allergic reactions, skin rash or pain at the infusion site, euphoria (a feeling of extreme happiness), and involuntary eye movements.
If you experience nausea or motion sickness often, let your provider know so that they can administer an anti-nausea medication along with your IV Ketamine treatment.
Most side effects dissipate around 15 minutes after the IV infusion ends.
Does insurance cover Ketamine Therapy?
Ketamine is approved by the FDA as an anesthetic. However, the treatment of conditions like depression and PTSD with Ketamine is considered an “off-label” use. Because of this, insurance companies usually don’t cover the treatment.
Defy Medical is a concierge clinic that provides competitively priced therapies at fixed prices. Once you come up with an individualized treatment plant with your provider, you will know how much your treatment costs, and you won’t experience any insurance-driven surprises.
Ketamine Therapy at Defy Medical
Receive your Ketamine IV in a comfortable environment under supervision of our experienced clinic staff. Ketamine Therapy has shown promise in lessoning the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, and more.
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