What is Ketamine Therapy?

When you think of ketamine, your first thoughts may be kids attending raves and taking the hallucinogen to enhance sensory perceptions. Unfortunately, this scenario happens and is dangerous for everyone using ketamine. There are many other scenarios in which ketamine is abused or misused that can lead to fatal outcomes.

This is one reason ketamine was classified as an illegal drug in the 1970s. People were using it recreationally at much higher doses, leading to addiction and, for some, death.

Before this, however, ketamine was making breakthroughs in the field of psychology. For this reason, researchers continue to study its benefits today. Also, psychiatrists can use it to treat people with depression, a leading cause of disability. Depression can also lead to thoughts of suicide.

Ketamine therapy is changing the lives of those who have tried everything else to feel better but without success.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is known as a dissociative anesthetic. Meaning it makes you feel detached from your surroundings. It is a hallucinogen like magic mushrooms, DXM, and nitrous oxide. You may feel like you are floating outside your body. It can also produce hallucinations, drowsiness, slowed heart rate, altered sensory perceptions, and numbness.

Like any drug, ketamine has been associated with side effects. The most common short-term side effects include nausea, euphoria, sedation, confusion, and elevated heart rate and blood pressure.

When used in controlled clinical settings at very low doses, it can improve psychological and medical conditions.

Uses for Ketamine Therapy

People with major depression diagnosed with the treatment-resistant disorder are making great progress with ketamine therapy. However, ketamine can help several other disorders.

Ketamine is used in high doses as an anesthetic during surgeries. Ketamine in low doses treats post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder and can reduce suicidal ideations. Ketamine is also used to treat chronic pain and migraines.

Who Meets The Criteria for Ketamine Therapy?

Not everyone qualifies for ketamine therapy, and your psychiatrist will perform an extensive evaluation of the psychological, biological, physical, environmental, and social aspects of your life. They must consider both risks and benefits before making a decision.

Those who have failed to see improvements with standard treatments are likely good candidates for ketamine therapy. Standard therapies may be defined as trying two or more antidepressants or medication combinations. They may have also tried treatments like electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), often called shock therapy.

Who Does Not Meet The Criteria for Ketamine Therapy?

There is specific exclusion regarding people who should not participate in ketamine therapy, including someone:

  • actively using drugs or alcohol of any kind, even prescription medicines
  • with a history of psychosis
  • who had an adverse reaction to ketamine therapy in the past
  • who is pregnant
  • with uncontrolled medical conditions like high blood pressure
  • with any heart disease

If you don’t meet the criteria, you can work with your psychiatrist and physician to become medically fit for treatment. For example, you can enter a treatment facility program to overcome drug and alcohol misuse. You can receive medicines to control blood pressure and other medical conditions.

How Ketamine is Different Than Antidepressants

Antidepressants work to rebalance or increase neurotransmitters, or chemical messengers, in the brain that signal serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine release. Ketamine works to rebalance the chemical messengers, which play a significant role in processing thoughts and emotions.

Stress is a major factor in causing an imbalance of glutamate in the brain. When out of balance, you may experience a mental health disorder like depression. Ketamine can block glutamate and stimulate the regrowth of neurons affected by stress.

How Ketamine Therapy Works

Ketamine can be given intravenously, by injection, or through a nasal spray called esketamine. Your psychiatrist will administer the low dose of ketamine to you in their clinic. Soon after your dose is given, you will start to feel relaxed, open-minded, less defensive, and willing to accept suggestions. You may feel like you have a mild out-of-body experience.

Because you are willing to open your mind to new ideas, working with a ketamine-assisted therapist during this time can improve the effects of ketamine, extending this long past your session.

Ketamine-assisted therapy allows your therapist to make positive suggestions to your subconscious, ultimately changing how your brain processes thoughts. Over time, you will notice you have more positive thoughts than negative ones.

Most people participate in two to six sessions to receive the greatest benefits. The positive effects can last months and years.

Will You Get Addicted to Ketamine?

The short answer is no. Ketamine therapy is provided in low doses, administered by a psychiatrist. You do not receive additional ketamine to take home with you for use outside the clinical environment. The effects wear off after a few hours.

Addiction is a process that starts when a person misuses ketamine by taking high doses of the drug recreationally. The longer they take ketamine, they build a tolerance. This means they need to take more and more ketamine to achieve the same effects they did when they first started using it.

As tolerance builds, the body becomes used to having ketamine in its system. It starts to depend on ketamine to function. When the body becomes dependent on a drug, it will react negatively if you stop taking it. It will produce withdrawal symptoms.

Withdrawal symptoms from ketamine can range from mild to severe in intensity, including nausea, vomiting, agitation, insomnia, shakes, and confusion.

To avoid withdrawal symptoms, people continue to use ketamine or other hallucinogens. This cycle develops into an addiction.

This is not possible when receiving ketamine therapy in the clinical setting.

Getting Started

The first step in receiving ketamine therapy is to set up an evaluation with a psychiatrist at the mental health center who specializes in administering ketamine. Also, choose the program that can provide ketamine-assisted psychotherapy at the time of your session. This helps the effects of ketamine last substantially longer.

Don’t wait to learn if you qualify for this breakthrough treatment. Make your appointment today.