What is ketamine therapy?
Ketamine, in the simplest terms, is a psychedelic drug that has been shown through studies to help ease emotional suffering. (You can read more on ketamine and using it in treatment on our website here).
It can be used in conjunction with psychotherapy–or, as you may know it, “talk therapy.” Or it can be used on it’s own as a fast acting medication. The ketamine infusions help to bring down our emotional defenses. It helps get us to a state where we are able to experience dissociation of the mind from the body, which opens new perspectives and healing possibilities.
Why choose ketamine therapy?
There are many reasons one might choose ketamine infusion therapy.
Some choose ketamine infusion therapy to help with chronic pain, since ketamine (in low doses) can help to relieve pain. (It was actually used as an anesthetic in the Vietnam War!)
But physical pain isn’t the only suffering that ketamine infusion can help with. When paired with psychotherapy, ketamine infusion treatments can help those suffering with emotional pain like anxiety, depression, trauma & PTSD.
Since 2000, research studies have shown that IV subanesthetic doses of ketamine consistently decreased symptoms of treatment resistant depression symptoms including:
- suicidal ideation
And that the treatment of these symptoms with ketamine infusions helps create rapid, effective, and sustained emotional healing.
And, ketamine can also be used as a one-time infusion to treat acute suicidal ideation and core symptoms PTSD, including intrusive thoughts, dissociative reactions, nightmares, increased autonomic arousal and associated depression.
What happens in a ketamine treatment session?
If you’re considering ketamine infusion therapy you’re probably curious about what the treatment process actually looks like.
To start: you’ll have a consultation.
In order to determine whether ketamine infusion therapy is the right option for you, your provider will want to talk to you and discuss difficulties you’re facing, symptoms you’re experiencing, and your goals for treatment.
You’ll likely also go over your medical history, as well as your current medical records to make sure ketamine infusion therapy will be safe for you.
If ketamine infusion therapy is the right for you your treatment will look like this:
Ketamine is typically IV, infused over 40 minutes. If you have gotten blood drawn before, the sensation of the IV can feel very similar.
You will be in a private room, with minimal light or noise distractions.
How you’ll feel physically:
Physically, you will feel close to sedated. You will be deeply relaxed, and will likely feel light and disconnected from your body. Because of it’s pain relieving properties, the ketamine infusion can leave you feeling relieved of aches or pains you came in with, along with relaxing your mind.
How you’ll feel emotionally:
Due to its psychedelic properties, you may feel changes in the way you perceive your surroundings. Lights, colors, noises, etc. may feel warped or far away. As with your physical state, you will be able to achieve a deep mental relaxation.
How you might feel after:
Some patients report feelings of dizziness, continued dissociation, nausea, fatigue and migraines after or between treatments. Like any other type of medical treatment, paying attention to your body and its responses is important, but the experience of patients before you cannot predict how your body will respond to treatment.
So how long does treatment last?
To begin with, patients will receive repeated doses of 6 infusions over the course of 2 or 3 weeks. When those treatments have been completed, additional treatment maintenance might occur once a month. Not everyone sticks to a strict schedule after the initial treatment, and instead may just make follow up appointments as needed.
If you’re interested in exploring ketamine infusion therapy, our therapists are here to help. Get in touch today to make a plan for your emotional health that works for you.