Now that we’ve talked a bit on the blog about what to expect in ketamine therapy and covered some frequently asked questions, it’s time to dive deeper into ketamine treatment. How do you know if ketamine therapy is right for you? There are a lot of treatment options out there for mental health, and everyone is different, so finding the right treatment can take some trial and error. While it’s always best to talk to a medical professional about starting new medications or treatments, there are some ways to get an idea if ketamine therapy is a good fit for someone.
In case you need a refresher, ketamine therapy is a type of mental health treatment that uses ketamine (a psychedelic drug) to help relieve emotional pain + suffering. Ketamine has been used in surgery as an anesthetic for a long time, and research has shown that the use of ketamine in low doses to treat mental illness can be extremely effective. However, it’s not a perfect wonder drug – there are some people who won’t do well on ketamine (just like there are people who won’t do well on any type of medication). With that being said though, research has shown that ketamine treatment can be effective for up to 70% of people (whereas traditional antidepressants are effective for around 20% of people).
Here are some reasons why ketamine might be a good option for you:
- You have treatment-resistant depression
As mentioned above, there can be some trial and error when it comes to medications for mental health, and not all medications will work for everyone. Since traditional anti-depressants only work for around 20% of people, there are many people who try every option available to them to treat their depression only to find that nothing helps relieve the severe symptoms they experience. Ketamine has shown to be a helpful treatment for depression that other medications leave untouched, giving people options where they thought they had none.
- You want to experience relief quickly with minimal side effects
Ketamine treatment is known for working fast. Sometimes folks notice a change in as little as an hour after treatment. Ketamine has long-lasting effects on mood disorders, even though the infusion only takes about an hour. Some patients report feeling better right after their first dose, and some report an immediate decrease in thoughts of self-harm or suicidal ideation. Since ketamine only stays in the body for a short time, any side effects felt from the treatment (like dizziness or nausea) will also only last a short time. It’s also rare to experience allergies to ketamine.
- You are willing to come in for maintenance
While some people experience relief from a single infusion, most people have to come back in for maintenance to keep up the results. While this is less of a time commitment than, say, going to talk therapy and a physician regularly to be prescribed antidepressants, there is still a time commitment involved. If going in for multiple treatments doesn’t bother you, then ketamine might be a good choice.
- You have chronic pain
Ketamine can also help folks with chronic pain. It is a pain-relieving medication (remember, it is used as an anesthetic). Chronic pain is a serious condition and ketamine can be a reliable way to decrease the pain that people experience. Some people have been on opioids for a long time and find them to be less effective, and of course, there is an opioid crisis in the United States right now, making many folks wary of relying on opioids.
- You are experiencing suicidal ideation
Ketamine therapy can quickly relieve suicidal ideation, making it a life-saving medication for people who are experiencing thoughts of suicide. Some people report feeling an almost immediate decrease in suicidal ideation after a single injection, which can be useful if someone is in a crisis
- You have severe anxiety
Similar to treatment-resistant depression, some anxiety disorders don’t respond to the traditional treatment methods used. Ketamine has been shown to lessen severe anxiety, even for folks who didn’t respond to other treatments. Severe anxiety can be incredibly limiting, so having an option to quickly treat it can be invaluable.
- You’re willing to pay out of pocket
Since it is not an FDA approved treatment, ketamine is not likely to be the first line of treatment. It is not covered by insurance, unlike therapy and medications, which sometimes are. People who are treated with ketamine for mental health problems have often tried just about every treatment under the sun with little to no relief for their pain. Though there are studies underway to prove the efficacy of ketamine as a mental health treatment (and get it approved by the FDA), many folks can’t afford (emotionally, physically, or financially) to wait. For now, the use of ketamine to treat things like depression is off-label, which means it won’t be covered by insurance.
Who shouldn’t get ketamine therapy
If you’re on other medications, like benzodiazepines, make sure to talk to your provider before you go in for treatment. They will let you know what you should keep taking and what you should stop taking before treatment.
While ketamine therapy has the potential to help many people, there are still some folks who won’t benefit from it. People who are pregnant are usually not advised to receive ketamine therapy. Folks with schizophrenia are also not candidates for ketamine therapy, as there is concern that ketamine could make their condition worse.
Ketamine can be a useful treatment for a number of disorders – depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and more. If you think that ketamine is right for you, get in touch with our office to book your appointment.