Ketamine FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions About Ketamine

We aim to make you feel as comfortable as possible at Kairos Restorative Medicine. You will be given eyeshades and headphones and supplied with a curated music playlist for ketamine. Most patients enjoy this experience, but ketamine may feel different to different people. Many describe a floating sensation and a sense of dissociating from their body. Many feel peace and calm. Some may feel euphoria. On occasion some patients may find the experience unsettling or frightening.  The likelihood of this experience is substantially reduced when adequately prepared by and in the company of one of our specially trained clinicians. Some experience a deep sense of spirituality. Some people may experience psychedelic phenomena at slightly higher doses, including hallucinations and ego dissolution.

During the ketamine experience, some people feel nausea or dizziness. Using eyeshades can significantly help reduce these symptoms. We can also provide medications as needed to treat nausea. Some people may feel anxious or scared. Preparation and having a therapist present can help one feel safe and soothe anxiety. Occasionally, patients may have a headache. We provide medications that help with mild headaches. During the ketamine treatment, your blood pressure and pulse may increase slightly, similar to exercise. For this reason, we monitor your blood pressure and blood oxygen level.

Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist. There are many complicated changes in brain chemistry when our patients takes ketamine, and it is postulated that its antidepressant effects may arise from neurons forming new connections. Many believe that during and soon after the ketamine experience, the brain is in a “neuroplastic” state and capable of new learning.

No, it is not safe to drive on the day of ketamine treatment. We require a friend or family member to drive you home for safety reasons.

It is strongly recommended not to go back to work or make important decisions the same day as your ketamine treatment.

Unfortunately, ketamine is usually not a one-time treatment. If you are suffering from depression, it is recommended that you have 4 to 6 initial therapies for 2-4 weeks. After this initial treatment series, most patients require ongoing booster sessions every month. Sometimes boosters are needed more frequently, and occasionally less frequently. It is important to remember going into ketamine treatment, that although 70% of patients experience some relief from depression, the effects usually wear off. Also, ketamine is rarely a stand-alone treatment and is best utilized as one tool in an overall treatment plan.

The research for depression shows that multiple treatments, often six infusions over 2-3 weeks, work better than a single infusion. Most patients also need booster sessions, usually monthly. Some patients may require fewer than six infusions to achieve symptom relief. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how many treatments you will need.

Our mission and expertise lie in combining therapy with ketamine. We support your decision not to combine therapy with ketamine and are happy to give referrals to other ketamine centers that provide this. For some patients, this is preferable, and you must receive the kind of treatment that best suits your needs.

We strongly recommend, and in some cases, require that you have an outside treatment team. We will be in contact with them to coordinate your care.

Contraindications include:

  • Active Psychosis
  • Allergy to ketamine
  • Uncontrolled Hypertension
  • Liver Disease
  • Active Substance Abuse
  • Pregnancy
  • Recent Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Obstructive Sleep Apnea
  • Severe Cardiovascular Disease

Research supports that ketamine may effectively treat depression, suicidality, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and chronic pain. Often patients with these conditions who feel stuck in their current therapy find that a ketamine session may help move therapy in a new direction.

When used under medical supervision, ketamine is an extremely safe medication. There is often a slight blood pressure and pulse boost, similar to during exercise. Ketamine has been used clinically for over fifty years. It is the anesthesia of choice for children and the elderly due to its extremely safe properties. Ketamine for mental health issues is typically used at much lower doses than for anesthesia. At this point, the evidence does not reveal long-term side effects for low-dose ketamine. However, more research needs to be done on possible long-term side effects. It is known that people who abuse high doses of ketamine (often 100x more than low-dose ketamine – daily) have a 30% risk of cystitis and cognitive deficits. There are only rare reports of cystitis at lower doses, and some research suggests cognition and memory may improve.

The risk of addiction for a patient without a personal history or family history of substance abuse is extremely low, based on the current research. That being said, it is crucial to be aware of ketamine’s addictive potential. To safeguard the risk of addiction, we are not offering at-home ketamine treatments.

These refer to different routes of ketamine administration. IV refers to giving the ketamine intravenously, which an infusion nurse helps to prepare. IM refers to injecting ketamine intramuscularly, usually into the arm. PO refers to taking ketamine orally, often a ketamine lozenge that slowly dissolves in your mouth for 10-12 minutes. Subcutaneous injection is given right under the skin, often in the abdominal region. Intranasal refers to a ketamine spray given in the nostrils. We are currently only offering IV and IM routes of administration.

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