For those struggling with depression and other mental health conditions, ketamine infusion therapy might be the game-changer you’ve been looking for. If you’ve tried antidepressants and other treatments without success, don’t despair. Today, we’ll delve deeper into what ketamine infusion therapy involves, how it works, its benefits, and who it can help.
Please note that before you begin any medical treatment, it’s essential to consult with your healthcare provider for personalized advice.
What Is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
Ketamine has been a staple in operating rooms since the 1970s. But it wasn’t until the late ’90s that researchers at Yale uncovered its rapid and robust antidepressant effects. The ensuing years have seen a surge of interest and research, revealing ketamine’s potential as a mental health treatment for various conditions.
How Does Ketamine Infusion Therapy Work?
Mechanism of Action
Ketamine works differently than antidepressants. Where common antidepressants, known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), focus on regulating the hormone serotonin, ketamine uniquely acts on NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors and increases the brain’s most powerful chemical messenger: glutamate levels.
Increasing glutamate strengthens and restores the vital neural connections and pathways in the regions of the brain most impaired by depression. As a result, there are positive changes in brain circuit function and improved mood regulation.
When given in low doses, ketamine infusion therapy can produce rapid and significant improvement in symptoms, often within a few hours to days. Compared to antidepressants, increasing your glutamate levels with ketamine results in a greater reach and more substantial impact on brain cells with a single dose.
Ketamine infusion therapy is especially helpful in treating major depressive disorder (MDD) and treatment-resistant depression (TRD). The clinical results are incredibly impressive:
- Up to a 70% success rate for treating depression.
- Rapid improvement often occurs after the first or second infusion.
- 35% of patients report a full alleviation of depressive symptoms.
- A stunning 63% relief rate among patients with suicidal thoughts within just three days.
It has also proven effective in treating other mental health conditions. It can help treat anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
Duration and Frequency
The initial treatment phase comprises six IV ketamine treatments over three weeks. After the initial treatment phase is complete, you will talk with your mental health provider to discuss long-term treatment plans. With ketamine infusion therapy, you may need to schedule maintenance infusions every two to four weeks to continue experiencing positive results.
What to Expect During Treatment
Before starting, you’ll undergo a thorough evaluation covering your symptoms, past treatments, and medical history. This step is crucial for making sure the treatment is suitable for you and for tailoring the treatment to your unique needs.
During Your Ketamine Infusion Therapy Treatment
The session process will begin by getting you situated in a comfortable chair. Once you’re settled in your chair, your doctor will let you know when the IV has begun. You’ll start to feel relaxed mentally and/or physically. As treatment progresses, you may start to feel increasingly light or faint. Some people report a sense of feeling slight warmth.
Some people experience a feeling almost like a slight separation between themselves and their bodies. Your hands and legs may feel far away. Some people progressively feel more separation between themselves and the different components of consciousness (e.g., their thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and perception). These sensations are considered the dissociative effects of ketamine.
Patients generally tolerate these sensations very well, reporting the experience as “spiritual” or “pleasurable”. During these sensations, someone struggling with depression, anxiety, or rumination will feel much less of and/or distant from those negative symptoms. Patients often describe this experience as an immense relief – like the blanket of depression has been temporarily lifted.
In rare cases, patients may have a more negative experience. We have mental health professionals on-site to help manage these rare events, which are generally brief and usually resolve completely within 10-15 minutes after stopping the infusion.
After the Session
Typically, you’ll need to stay at the clinic for a couple of hours post-treatment for monitoring. You’ll then work with your healthcare provider to assess your progress.
Who Stands to Benefit from Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
While ketamine infusion therapy is most renowned for treating major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression, it’s also gaining traction for other mental health disorders. If you’re dealing with anxiety disorders, PTSD, or OCD, this might be worth exploring.
Many patients speak about the experience as if a heavy blanket of depression has been lifted, even if only for a short while. It’s a chance to breathe, regroup, and strategize for the long-term mental health journey.
Risks and Side Effects
Like any medical treatment, it’s crucial to be aware of potential side effects. While most people tolerate the treatment well, some report feeling disoriented, having double vision, or experiencing slight pain at the injection site. Rest assured that any negative experiences are closely monitored and managed by psychiatric professionals.
Currently, most insurance companies do not cover the cost of ketamine infusion therapy, except for Kaiser. If treatment is not covered by insurance, each treatment session typically costs $600, payable out-of-pocket.
Ketamine infusion therapy is making a name for itself as a rapid and effective treatment for mental health conditions. Your first step toward considering this treatment is a consultation with your healthcare provider.
Think ketamine infusion therapy might be the right path for you? Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation. Contact us today at 844-867-8444 to schedule a consultation. You deserve to feel better, and ketamine infusion therapy could help.