Frequently Asked Questions
Ketamine is a safe, FDA approved anesthetic which physicians have used for over 50 years and is widely recognized as one of the safest options for anesthesia. In fact, the WHO includes ketamine in its published list of essential medications. Ketamine infusion therapy for depression or chronic pain uses much lower doses than would be required for surgical anesthesia. Ketamine infusion therapy can be abbreviated as KIT.
Classified as a “dissociative anesthetic,” ketamine at low doses provides patients a feeling of floating or drowsiness. In rare instances, patients may experience pleasant hallucinations even though the therapy uses low doses of ketamine. After therapy, patients should feel a sense of peace and should show marked improvement in symptoms even after their first session. The effects of treatment should wear off within minutes of completing the session.
Up to 80% of patients who undergo KIT show marked improvements. Current antidepressant medication regimes are shown to be effective in only about 1/3 of patients.
Ketamine infusion therapy treats a wide range of conditions. These include patients who suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD or chronic pain, such as fibromyalgia or TMJ. Ketamine infusion therapy is safe for patients already on antidepressant medications, including SSRI’s.
Patients currently taking benzodiazepines or who have a mental history of psychosis are contraindicated from ketamine infusion therapy. Patients with significantly elevated blood pressure should not receive ketamine infusion therapy.
No, any licensed mental health professional or physician can refer you. Otherwise, Ketamine Life Centers gives you the option to speak with our capable clinical psychologist, Dr. Loeb, who can evaluate you and determine your candidacy for ketamine infusion therapy.
Don’t worry! Ketamine infusion therapy has a different mechanism of action than antidepressant medications and should not interfere with your current regime. All medications should be reported to our staff, though, to ensure that no medications will interfere.
Yes, absolutely continue your psychiatric therapeutic treatments. Ketamine therapy will work most effectively in tandem with psychiatric therapy and other prescribed antidepressants.
As with many anesthetic medications, researchers have not yet uncovered all the details about how ketamine works. Research does suggest the following, however: “The ability of ketamine to increase synaptogenesis represents a fundamental, conceptual frame shift in our understanding of synaptic plasticity and the treatment of depression. First, the results demonstrate a basic characteristic of brain plasticity, the ability to rapidly stimulate the formation and function of new spines/synapses” (Li et al). Effectively, ketamine increases levels of an important neurotransmitter in the brain called glutamate to help grow or repair damaged or unresponsive neural synapses.
When first beginning therapy, patients will enter the “acute phase” of treatment which involves 5-6 treatments given over a 2-3-week period. Patients can expect to notice marked improvement after this time, and can look forward to booster infusions every few months afterward. The effects of ketamine therapy do taper off. Patients with depression in particular should therefore continue ketamine infusion therapy alongside their normal psychotherapy to completely resolve the condition. In the case of chronic pain management, ketamine therapy can be continued indefinitely. Each patient’s circumstances are different, and continued evaluation will help decide when a patient should discontinue therapy.
No. Physicians have used ketamine even in children for decades. The medication shows no evidence of addiction. Furthermore, ketamine infusion therapy administers the medication at relatively low doses which further reduce any risk of addiction.
KIT for patients suffering from depression lasts approximately 1.5 hrs from the time the patient enters to the time they leave. The treatment itself lasts around 45 minutes, but patients should account for some time to recover. KIT for patients with chronic pain can expect to remain in the treatment center for around 4 hours. Repairing damaged neurons with KIT does take a longer time.
An individual treatment costs $750, or a package of 5 for the acute phase treatment costs $3500 ($250 reduction). Unfortunately, health insurance does not yet cover ketamine infusion therapy.