Ketamine is a very safe medication when administered for anesthesia or as a treatment for depression. The doses used for depression are much lower than those used for anesthetic purposes, and clients are monitored closely for the duration of the 40-minute infusion. Most clients feel very relaxed and free while they are receiving the infusion, and those effects wear off within an hour or so afterward. We carefully assess your medical history and medication list before the treatment and will consult your primary care physician or mental health professional as needed.
The side effects of the low-dose ketamine infusions in our protocols are minimal and will only last about an hour or two, but may include mild drowsiness, nausea, and increased blood pressure. Less common side effects include vivid dreams or agitation. These can be controlled by adjusting the dosage. Most clients don’t mind the relaxed and free feeling they experience during the infusion.
The IV infusion will be administered at a very low dose and over an extended period of time. The first 15-20 minutes are typically uneventful with no noticeable effects; however, within 20 minutes or so, people tend to notice some blurring of vision, a feeling of “lightness,” “floating,” or intoxication, and sometimes some numbness in the toes or area around the mouth. Over the course of the next 20 minute period, these feelings tend to build, so that the medicine is at the peak of its intensity at the very end.
Other common feelings include euphoria, talkativeness, a feeling of being “disconnected” or in a dream, heightened perceptions (background noise may seem louder, colors or lights are more intense), and a feeling that people often describe as “weird, odd, different, or interesting.” Less commonly, people may experience nausea and rarely hallucinations. These feelings start to subside approximately 10-15 minutes after the medicine is done and last for a total of 45-50 minutes.
Most people can expect to be with us for about 90 minutes total, with no side effects beyond your release from our care and none between treatments. Most adverse effects can easily be treated by adjusting the rate of your infusion to make your experience pleasant and calming.
In past years, ketamine has received a stigma of being a “party drug” or “street drug,” and some may be concerned about the potential for abuse or addiction. Academic research and clinical experience have shown that the very low dosing and adherence to protocols dismiss the risk of addiction. Again, access to ketamine is limited and difficult to attain outside of the controlled atmosphere that we provide, so there is virtually no concern for abuse. We do not write prescriptions for ketamine use outside the clinic.
Medical conditions that are not well managed would disqualify you from any infusion treatment. Uncontrolled high blood pressure, any serious cardiac or respiratory condition, untreated thyroid disease, a current manic phase of bipolar and active psychosis (hallucinations/delusions) need to be discussed with your clinician to avoid any potential complications. We will review your medical history and perform a brief physical assessment to ensure this line of treatment has little to no risk to your physical or mental health.
Your current medications will be evaluated for your safety and optimal experience. Some medications have been shown to interfere with or dampen the effectiveness of the infusion. These medications include benzodiazepines (such as Xanax, Ativan, Versed, Valium, and Clonazepam), risperidone (Risperdal), and olanzapine (Zyprexa). These medications may not need to be stopped, but the dose leading up to infusion therapy and for a short period after may need to be adjusted. Further discussion with your primary care provider will be beneficial.
Each day of treatment will be similar. We ask that you adhere to our guidelines as they are put forth to keep you and others safe. Before any infusion treatment, we will require a government-issued photo ID, completion of a questionnaire regarding your health as well as consent forms acknowledging that you understand the requirements, risks, that there is no guarantee, and that this treatment is not a cure but a possible adjunct to your therapy regime.
During the treatment, you will experience something called a dissociative effect. Most patients describe the experience with words like relaxing, floating, and pleasant. This “dream-like” state feeling quickly subsides after the treatment is over, allowing you to leave with your driver after your appointment is complete.
Although the effects of these infusions wear off quickly once the infusion has stopped, we ask that you refrain from driving for 24 hours after your infusion. Please plan on arriving with or arranging a responsible friend or relative who can drive you home safely after your infusion—choosing to drive any earlier than 24 hours after your infusion is considered to be driving under the influence and can be punishable by law.
Infusion therapy is typically well-tolerated; however, as with any medical procedure or administration of medication, there is always a potential risk of complications or adverse events. The symptoms or side effects will diminish once the infusion is completed, discontinued, or slowed down. We are prepared for all potential side effects and have the necessary skills and equipment to manage the potential complications of all treatments we offer here at FIK.
Resolution of symptoms after a series of infusions may last anywhere from 2 weeks to 3 months and, in some cases, up to a year. Remission is variable and individualized. Completion of a full course of treatment is encouraged to maximize the effects of the treatment. After completion of an initial Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP), subsequent Booster infusions may be required to substantiate the longevity of remission. The highest chance of success is to ensure proper diagnosis and to utilize this treatment as an adjunct to your ongoing individualized treatment program.
Although KAP is now nationally recognized as a substantial and legitimate treatment for long-term depression, it remains “off-label.” Therefore, insurance does not cover any portion of the treatment series.
Flow Integrative Ketamine is an approved service provider with Advance Care Card Services network, which offers financing as an option for covering the cost of Ketamine Infusion Therapy. To apply or for more information, please visit advancecarecard.com or click on the advertisement below.