Who is Not a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy?

Medically reviewed by Dr. Mark Hrymoc, M.D.

More than 17 million adults in America alone have a diagnosable depressive disorder. It is estimated that one-third of this group experience resistance to treatment. Despite trying multiple methods of treatment involving medications and behavioral therapies, they do not find relief. 

Treatment-resistant depression can make you feel hopeless and like there is no solution to your problem. Worsening depression can lead to suicidal thoughts, plans, and attempts. Ketamine therapy helps those with treatment-resistant depression and erases thoughts of suicide for many people. It may be a good solution for you also. Keep reading to learn more about who is and who is not a good candidate for Ketamine therapy.

Considerations for Who Is Not a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy

When considering treatment options for depressive disorders, your psychiatrist will conduct a comprehensive assessment to ensure you can benefit from Ketamine therapy. Treatment considerations include the following:

  • Severity of depressive symptoms
  • Past treatments and outcomes
  • Current suicidal thoughts or plans
  • History of suicidal thoughts, plans, or attempts
  • History of trying multiple combinations of treatment methods
  • History of Ketamine use, recreationally or by prescription

Exclusion Factors for Ketamine Therapy

Doctors not only assess your potential for receiving Ketamine therapy, but they also assess whether you should be excluded from the treatment. You will not be approved if any risks threaten your mental or physical health. Below are examples of disqualifying risks.


If you take medications for physical or mental health conditions, tell your doctor before you begin Ketamine therapy. Some medications, like benzodiazepines, lurasidone, and lamotrigine may diminish the antidepressant benefit of ketamine. Although research studies have attempted to demonstrate this effect, there have not been consistent results. However, enough individuals have reported this phenomenon that unless there is a downside, doctors recommend not taking these medications 12 hours before a ketamine treatment.

Substance Abuse

Drinking alcohol or other drugs should never be mixed with Ketamine. Alcohol and many other substances have sedative-like effects like Ketamine. The potential to become too sedated is one reason for excluding you from Ketamine therapy. Taking any two substances together can cause adverse effects or unexpected interactions.


If you are currently pregnant or have recently given birth, Ketamine therapy is best avoided. The reason is to protect the health of the baby. Ketamine is a drug that, even in small doses, can travel through the bloodstream to an unborn baby or breast milk to a newborn, and it hasn’t been fully studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women.

Physical Health

Ketamine increases blood pressure. In the worst case, if blood pressure rises too high, it can cause a heart attack or stroke. Diseases that cause the heart rate or blood pressure to increase, need to be stabilized before being approved for Ketamine therapy. 

Mental Health

Ketamine side effects may include hallucinations for some people. If they already struggle with hallucinations and delusions associated with a mental illness, the drug could worsen it. 

Potential Side Effects of Ketamine Therapy

As with any drug, side effects may occur. Ketamine therapy participants have reported positive and negative side effects. Some say they experience nausea or upset stomach, drowsiness, and headache. Between 6% and 12% of participants experience confusion and disorientation in the emergence phenomenon.

It is rare to experience hallucinations. However, some say they feel like they are floating outside their body, claiming it is relaxing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Before you sign up for Ketamine therapy, create a list of questions for your doctor. The answers can help you make a final treatment decision. Common questions from people interested in learning more about who is not a good candidate for Ketamine therapy include the following:

How Is Ketamine Therapy Administered?

The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a nasal spray called Esketamine for use in depression. Because many research studies support the use of Ketamine for depression, suicidal thinking, and other mood issues, physicians may administer generic ketamine via intramuscular orintravenous routes of administration.

You are given the medicine in the doctor’s clinic and monitored by nurses for the entire session, which usually lasts about 2 hours.

How Long Does Ketamine Therapy Take to Work?

Expect to be at the clinic for 2 hours to receive the treatment. Many feel the effects in their first session. For others, it may take two or more sessions. At the end of your session, the temporary effects will fade. However, the long-term benefit to your mood can last weeks to months.

Will I Get Addicted to Ketamine?

There is an extremely low risk of addiction to Ketamine when receiving it in a medical setting. However, if you have a history of ketamine addiction, that will be a reason ketamine treatment may not be appropriate for you. 


Ketamine therapy can only be administered by a licensed medical physician, preferably with a specialty in psychiatry. If you have tried other treatment methods for depression but have not experienced symptom relief, reach out to the Mental Health Center today for an evaluation to see if you are a good candidate for Ketamine therapy.

It can be frustrating to try various treatments only to have them fail at improving your symptoms of depression. Now you can feel hopeful knowing Ketamine therapy could be your solution. It’s effective, quick, and has minimal risks and side effects. Find out more about who is not a good candidate for Ketamine therapy by contacting Mental Health Center.