Ketamine is among the many treatment options for mood disorders like bipolar and mental disorders like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Ketamine is traditionally used as an anesthetic but has recently, in the past 18 years, been discovered to treat the symptoms of some mental disorders. Ketamine treatment centers around the U.S. now provide ketamine as a treatment for depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
If you’re interested in the benefits of ketamine and whether or not it could be an option for you, keep reading to learn more about what to expect during ketamine treatment.
A doctor or registered nurse will administer ketamine through an IV catheter. The drug will then be slowly released into your system over an extended period of time — usually one to three hours depending on your tolerability.
You will also be hooked up to a pulse oximeter, blood oxygen sensor, and blood pressure monitor that will keep track of your heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and blood pressure throughout your treatment.
Someone will be in the room with you to keep track of these measurements, so if you need to get up to go to the bathroom or anything else, you will be able to ask for assistance. Don’t try to move on your own since the drug can make you feel groggy.
Once the treatment has finished, you will probably need a few minutes for the effects of the drug to wear off. And the drug can stay in your system for up to two hours, so even when you start to feel more alert, don’t try to drive or operate heavy machinery.
Most people start ketamine with six infusions given over a period of one to two weeks, then your doctor may recommend one treatment every three to five weeks for up to a year.
Patients that receive ketamine may feel a tingling sensation during the infusion. Others say they feel heavy or even like their mind is detached from their body. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, not a hallucinogen, so you don’t need to be concerned about hallucinations or a bad trip.
If you don’t like the feeling that the ketamine gives you, the doctor or nurse can slow the drip rate so that the drug is administered more slowly. Some patients can tolerate more than others, so just let your provider know how you are feeling and whether the drug is too intense.
Ketamine can also cause nausea, so it may be best not to eat right before treatment. If you feel sick, let someone know so that they can administer an anti-nausea medication. You may also feel like you’re salivating more, so ask your doctor if they can provide you with candy or mints to suck on.
If you find that you like conversation during treatment, you are allowed to bring anyone with you, just so long as they have a calming presence. Some people prefer not to talk and instead listen to calming music, books, or podcasts or watch some type of video.
Many patients experience the benefits of ketamine after just one treatment. The symptoms of your anxiety, depression, or PTSD may feel less prevalent, and you may feel like you have more energy and focus the next day after your first treatment.
The almost instant benefits are what make ketamine such a great option for treating mood disorders like bipolar and other mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Researchers have found that ketamine works much more quickly than traditional antidepressants and even works when those traditional drugs have failed.
If you think ketamine could work for you, talk to your psychiatrist about your options. Here at Serenity Mental Health Centers, we offer ketamine treatment to patients. Contact us to schedule an appointment and discuss whether ketamine is right for you.