Ketamine Infusion FAQ

Is ketamine safe?

Since the 1970s, ketamine has been used as an anesthesia medication – and for pain management – in operating and emergency room settings. In the right hands, ketamine is a safe depression treatment that can effectively improve depressive symptoms in upwards of 70% o patients. Emergency room physicians, hospice doctors and anesthesiologists are the most highly trained individuals when it comes to safely administering ketamine.

As a treatment for depression, treatment resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychiatric disorders, and chronic pain, ketamine is administered at sub-anesthetic doses – below those necessary to induce general anesthesia.

Is ketamine a recreational drug?

It is true that ketamine, historically, has been abused as a recreational drug. As a street drug, ketamine is used is in doses much higher than the IV ketamine doses used to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychiatric disorders and chronic pain. Ketamine is administered legally and safely everyday as an anesthetic, and is a safe medication in the right hands. Many other legal and safe anesthetic and pain management drugs are abused for recreational use, so ketamine is not unique in this manor. As highly trained physicians, we administer the proper dose of ketamine, at the proper time, under the proper settings.

Is IV ketamine the only way to administer ketamine for treatment-resistant depression?

Ketamine for depression may be administered any number of ways – orally, sublingually, intranasally & intramuscularly. Because of the unpredictability of response in these other routes of administration, however, intravenous ketamine infusions have emerged as the preferred route of administration. Also, the overwhelming majority of research and scientific studies about ketamine for depression and other psychiatric disorders have been performed using intravenous ketamine.

Can ketamine help me?

Scientific studies performed since the early part of the century show a remarkable 70% effectiveness rate in IV ketamine for the treatment of depression and other mood disorders. While the benefits can be life-changing, they may manifest in ways that differ from some patients’ expectations. The changes produced by ketamine can be subtle, and though they occur rapidly, it may take time for a patient to feel the full impact. Some patients expect an immediate improvement – instant healing – after their ketamine treatments, but the reality is that ketamine improves depressive symptoms in a way that allows patients to engage in other healthy activities that promote mental health and overall wellbeing. With this in mind, we work closely with each patient to determine whether ketamine is a viable depression treatment option.

What should I expect during my first infusion?

After we receive your medical history and an acknowledgement of ongoing care signed by a mental health professional or primary care doctor, we will schedule your initial consultation. At the consultation, if we decide that you are a good candidate for ketamine infusions, you are welcome to receive your first ketamine infusion treatment – oftentimes on that same day. Plan to be at our ketamine clinic for approximately 90-120 minutes if you are receiving ketamine infusions for depression, or longer if you are receiving infusions for chronic pain.

For the actual infusion, we will place an IV, apply monitors for your heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, and oxygen levels, and will then begin the infusion. The infusion itself takes between 45 minutes and 4 hours, depending on whether you are receiving infusions for depression, psychiatric disorders, or chronic pain. We will monitor you post-infusion for about 30 minutes before you are released with a friend or relative who can safely drive you home.

Occasionally people experience nausea, mild non-threatening hallucinations, or dizziness during their infusions. We are equipped to supplement your infusion with an anti-nausea medication as needed.

You will be awake and alert during the infusion, able to interact with the people around you. It is best to relax or listen to music during the infusion.

The ketamine effects wear off rapidly once the infusion ends, though we ask that you please refrain from driving until 24 hours post-infusion.

On the day of your infusion, please do not eat 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.

How many infusions will I need?

The standard ketamine infusion protocol for depression that we recommend based on the results of clinical trials and research experience is 4-6 infusions over a timeframe of two weeks. It has been shown that serial infusions are more effective than single infusions, and that the majority of patients who respond to ketamine treatment require maintenance infusions on an ongoing basis following the initial series. The frequency of these maintenance infusions varies greatly from person to person. It is important to note that ketamine infusions should not be viewed as a cure for depression, but rather a depression treatment that is a piece of a multi-modal approach that may include ongoing mental health therapy or other depression medication.

Can I continue to take my regular medications?

Yes, you should absolutely continue taking your antidepressants and other antipsychotic medications. It is imperative that we review your medication list before we begin treating your depression or other mental health disorder with ketamine.

Is ketamine addicting?

Ketamine is not a physically addicting substance. That being said, it has been show to be psychologically addicting in those using it recreationally. Recreational ketamine use is at much higher doses, and in much greater frequency, than we will use at our ketamine clinic.