Ketamine is a medication that has been used for decades as an anesthetic in different medical settings. More recently, it has been studied for its potential to manage symptoms of severe and treatment-resistant psychiatric disorders and chronic pain conditions – in what is now known as ketamine infusion therapy.
What Conditions Can Ketamine Infusion Therapy Help With?
Ketamine infusion therapy has shown promise in the treatment of major depressive disorder, particularly in cases where other treatments have been ineffective.
It has also proven effective in alleviating symptoms of anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), suicidal ideations, substance use disorders (SUDs), and certain chronic pain conditions.
How Does Ketamine Infusion Therapy Work?
The exact mechanism by which ketamine works to alleviate symptoms of depression and other mental health conditions is not fully understood. However, research suggests that it works by interacting with and modulating different neurotransmitter systems in the brain.
This can lead to positive changes in brain function and plasticity, which can essentially help regulate mood, emotional, and pain processing.
The Legitimacy of Ketamine as a Medical Treatment
Ketamine infusion therapy is an increasingly popular treatment for depression and other psychiatric conditions – but is still largely used off-label as an experimental treatment. This begs the question: Is ketamine infusion therapy a real medical treatment?
The short answer is yes. Though not yet FDA-approved, it is legal for qualified and certified medical professionals to recommend, prescribe, and administer off-label ketamine treatment for patients who have not responded to traditional treatment options – so far as all safety protocols are observed.
And with an increasing body of research supporting its efficacy and a well-established safety profile spanning over 50 years of use as an aesthetic – the FDA recently approved a ketamine-based nasal spray (esketamine) to treat severe depression.
This is seen by many as just the first of many FDA-approved ketamine treatments to come – and a signal that ketamine infusion therapy is here to stay.
What to Expect During a Ketamine Infusion Therapy Session
Ketamine infusion therapy is typically administered in a medical setting by a qualified healthcare provider. During the treatment session, you will be asked to lie down in a comfortable bed, and then an IV line will be inserted into your vein to slowly deliver small, controlled doses of ketamine into your bloodstream.
After the infusion, you will be monitored for any adverse reactions for another 30 minutes to 1 hour before being discharged. It is important to arrange for someone to drive the patient home after the infusion, as the effects of the ketamine may impair their ability to operate a vehicle.
How Many Ketamine Infusion Therapy Sessions Will I Need?
The number and frequency of ketamine infusion sessions will depend on the patient’s specific condition and response to treatment. Most patients typically receive 6-12 infusions over two to three weeks to induce remission, followed by occasional “booster” infusions to keep the symptoms at bay.
In some cases, ketamine infusion therapy may be used in combination with other treatment modalities, such as talk therapy or other medications, to achieve the best possible outcomes.
Are There Any Side Effects?
As with any medication, there are potential side effects associated with ketamine infusion therapy. Common side effects may include dizziness, drowsiness, vomiting, and mild hallucinations/dissociation. But the good news is that the side effects are generally mild, and they typically go away within a few hours of treatment.
Keep in mind that ketamine is a powerful medication that should only be administered by a certified medical professional in a medical setting for safety reasons.
The Bottom Line
Ketamine infusion therapy is a real and highly effective medical treatment for a variety of conditions, such as depression, PTSD, and chronic pain. It is a safe and relatively low-risk option when administered by qualified medical professionals in a controlled setting – and it is increasingly becoming the go-to treatment when other more mainstream treatments have failed.
Ultimately, it’s up to you and your healthcare provider to decide if ketamine infusion therapy is the right treatment for you or a loved one – but it definitely warrants serious consideration.