What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy

It’s time to embrace the future of depression treatment: ketamine. Ketamine infusion therapy is an innovative treatment that can help people find relief from their depression symptoms and other mental health conditions. If antidepressants or other treatments have not yet worked for you, do not lose hope. Ketamine infusion therapy could finally lift you out of your symptoms. Keep reading to learn more about ketamine treatments, how they work, what session looks like, and more.   

Please note that you will need to consult with your provider to ensure that ketamine infusion therapy will work well given your medical history and mental health needs.   

What is ketamine infusion therapy?   

Ketamine is a general anesthetic widely used in operating rooms since the 1970s. In the late 1990s, researchers at Yale first showed that a low-dose intravenous infusion of ketamine had rapid and profound antidepressant effects.   

Over the next 20 years, more and more research has been done to demonstrate how effective ketamine infusion therapy is in helping patients find relief from depression as well as other mental health conditions.  

What does ketamine treat?  

Ketamine infusion therapy is primarily used to treat people suffering from major depressive disorder (MDD) and treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Some of our favorite statistics on ketamine treatments include: 

  • Clinical studies show that ketamine infusion therapy can effectively treat MDD and treatment-resistant depression TRD with a success rate as high as 70%.  
  • Many patients show rapid improvement after just their first or second infusion. 
  • 35% of patients experience that their depression symptoms are completely resolved after ketamine treatment.  
  • 63% of patients with suicidal ideation experience no longer having suicidal thoughts within 3 days of treatment.  

Ketamine has also been proven effective in treating other mental health conditions. It can help treat anxiety disorders, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).  

How does ketamine treatment work?  

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.  

What does a treatment session look like?  

Ketamine infusion must be administered by specially trained medical personnel in a certified clinical setting because it is given intravenously and is considered a controlled substance. Most patients receive it as an outpatient and go home in a couple of hours.  

At Mindful Health Solutions, we currently offer ketamine infusion therapy in San Francisco and Oakland, California. The infusion lasts 40 minutes, and the entire session takes about an hour and a half to two hours to complete.   

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 psychiatric 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.  

What is a typical course of treatment?  

Initial ketamine infusion therapy consists of six IV ketamine treatments for three weeks, averaging two treatments per week. Your provider will go over the details of this with you during your initial consultation.   

If your symptoms are successfully controlled following this initial course of treatment, then your provider will schedule follow-up evaluations. During these evaluations, you will work with your provider to determine long-term treatment plans as needed. If your provider thinks you may benefit from maintenance treatments, then you may have to come in for an infusion every two to four weeks.   

Are there any side effects?  

Side effects range from person to person, and typically only last during the treatment session. Although you may not experience any of these side effects, the most common side effects of ketamine infusion therapy include:   

  • Disassociation  
  • Feeling strange or loopy  
  • Dream-like state  
  • Double vision  
  • Loss of appetite  
  • Trouble speaking  
  • Elevated heart rate  
  • Slight pain at the injection site  
  • Nausea  
  • Elevated blood pressure  

To ensure the safety of our patients, they are supervised during their sessions for around 90 minutes to two hours.   

How can I get treatments?  

The first step in getting treated with ketamine infusion therapy is to talk to your provider. If you’re interested in getting treatments with us at Mindful Health Solutions, our staff will gather information on your symptoms, background, and any treatments that you’ve tried in the past.  

They will answer any questions you may have about ketamine infusion therapy and, if you are interested, discuss how the treatment works. From there, you will be able to schedule your treatment sessions. Your physician will also help you to determine maintenance treatments based on your unique needs.  

What is the cost and is it covered by insurance?  

Unfortunately, except for Kaiser insurance, ketamine infusion therapy is not eligible for insurance reimbursement currently. However, you can pay out of pocket. Ketamine infusion therapy for depression or other psychiatric indications is $600 per treatment.  

If you have yet to find relief from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, or other mental health conditions, ketamine infusion therapy might be an option for you. Contact us today at 844-867-8444 or online to set up a consultation. We will work to make sure you feel better.  

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