Frequently Asked Questions | Ketamine for Depression & Chronic Pain

Ketamine for Depression & Chronic Pain | Common Questions & Answers

Since the early part of this century, researchers have been compiling mounds of information about ketamine for depression and chronic pain. Ketamine infusions effectively alleviate the symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder and other psychiatric conditions in up to 70% of patients. However, many people still have questions about these revolutionary treatments: how ketamine works to treat depression and pain, what to expect before, during and after a ketamine infusion, and much more.

Here are answers to many of the most commonly asked questions about ketamine infusions for depression treatment and chronic pain management. If you can’t find the answer you’re looking for here, please contact our Omaha ketamine clinic for more information, and to learn how ketamine infusions could change—or save—your life.

 

Are ketamine infusions safe?

Ketamine has been used in operating rooms and on battlefields as an anesthetic and painkiller since the 1970s. In the hands of an experienced clinician or physician, ketamine for depression is very safe—and highly effective. Primary care physicians, emergency room physicians and anesthesiologists are the most qualified individuals to administer a ketamine infusion. The clinician or physician administering your ketamine infusion should carefully monitor your vital signs throughout the duration of your treatment. This ensures your comfort and safety.

When used for the treatment of depression or chronic pain, ketamine is administered as sub-anesthetic doses—much lower than those required to include anesthesia.

 

Is ketamine abused recreationally?

Like many highly effective medications, ketamine can be abused recreationally. In these situations, ketamine is taken in doses significantly higher than the IV ketamine doses we use to treat depression, psychiatric disorders, or chronic pain. Ketamine is a legal and safe drug, used every day as an anesthetic and emergency room painkiller. To minimize the risk of abuse, ketamine infusions are administered only under the supervision of a highly qualified physician—patients do not go home with a ketamine prescription. Ketamine is administered only at the appropriate dose, at the appropriate time, under appropriate settings.

Are IV ketamine infusions the only way to administer ketamine for depression & chronic pain?

IV ketamine infusions have emerged as the “gold standard” in ketamine administration, though there are several other ways for the drug to be administered. Ketamine may be administered orally, sublingually, intranasally or intramuscularly. These other routes of ketamine administration, however, are highly unpredictable. Furthermore, the majority of research that has been performed about ketamine for depression and chronic pain has used data from IV ketamine infusions.

Will ketamine be effective for me?

The research done to date has shown ketamine to be remarkably effective for the treatment of depression and other psychiatric disorders. Research has found ketamine infusions to be effective in up to 70% of patients, many of whom had resisted other methods of depression treatment. Patients will know within 1-2 infusions whether ketamine will be effective for them.

The effects of ketamine infusions are oftentimes life-changing, though it’s not the “light switch flip” that patients sometimes imagine. Ketamine produces subtle changes—albeit rapidly—that enable depressed patients to engage in other activities to promote health and happiness. Ketamine lifts the figurative fog of depression enough that patients can find and move towards hope.

Our Omaha ketamine clinic works closely with each and every patient to determine whether ketamine infusions are a viable option for their unique symptoms and needs.

My first ketamine infusion is coming up—what should I expect?

Congratulations on scheduling your first ketamine infusion! You’ve taken the first step towards changing your life.

Once we have your medical history form on file, and have received an Acknowledgement of Ongoing Care signed by your mental health practitioner or primary care physician, we are free to schedule your first ketamine infusion.

On the day of your first infusion, plan to be at our Omaha ketamine clinic for approximately 1.5-2 hours if you are receiving ketamine infusions for depression or psychiatric disorders, or longer if you are receiving ketamine infusions for chronic pain management. Please do not eat solid foods, milk, pulpy juices, or soup for at least 6 hours before your infusion. You may enjoy water and other clear liquids, Gatorade, apple juice, black coffee or tea up to 2 hours prior to your infusion.

During your ketamine infusion, we will set an IV, apply state-of-the-art monitoring equipment for your heart rate, heart rhythm and oxygen levels, and then begin the infusion. While we administer your ketamine infusion, you will be awake and alert. You will be able to interact with people, though most patients enjoy relaxing or listening to music during their ketamine infusion. You can anticipate a 45-minute infusion time for the treatment of depression and mood disorders, or up to 4-hours if you are treating a chronic pain condition.

Post-infusion, we will monitor your vitals for another half hour. Once we determine that you are stable, we will release you into the care of a friend or relative who can safely drive you home. We ask that you please not operate a vehicle for at least 24-hours after your ketamine treatment.

Ketamine side effects are generally mild and go away within 2-hours of your infusion. Side effects include nausea, mild hallucinations, or dizziness. If you suffer from nausea during your infusion, our ketamine clinic is equipped to administer an anti-nausea medication.

How many ketamine infusions will I need?

Research shows that the most effective ketamine infusion protocol for the treatment of depression is 4-6 infusions over the course of two weeks. Serial infusions are more effective than single infusions.

After your initial 4-6 infusions, you may need maintenance infusions on an ongoing basis to help maintain the positive results of your ketamine treatments. How often you need maintenance infusions will be dependent on your needs, as well as on the impact of other therapies you are using in conjunction with ketamine infusions. Remember, ketamine is not a cure for depression; it is part of a multi-modal approach to be used alongside talk therapy, exercise and other medications.

Should I continue to take my antidepressants and other prescription medications?

You should never discontinue the use of an antidepressant, antipsychotic, or any other prescription medication without the consent of a physician. That being said, it is important for us to review your medication list prior to beginning ketamine infusion therapy.

Is there a risk of addiction?

Contrary to popular belief, ketamine is not a physically addicting drug. For those who abuse the drug recreationally, it can be considered psychologically addicting. Recreational ketamine is used at much higher doses, and in much greater frequency, than we use at our Omaha ketamine clinic.

 

Contact Miracle Hills Ketamine 

Our Omaha ketamine clinic is happy to help point you in the direction of health and wellness. Whether you are struggling to cope with depression or chronic pain, or if you are interested in learning more about how ketamine infusions could help a loved one, we are here to answer your questions, address your concerns and point you in the direction of health and wellness. Contact us using the brief form below.