Mental health and chronic pain management are two areas in which traditional treatments often fall short. Medications and psychotherapy, while effective for some people, may not work for everyone and can sometimes come with a host of negative side effects.
This has led to an increasing interest in alternative treatments like ketamine infusions. But what exactly are ketamine infusions, and how do they work? Let’s take a closer look.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a fast-acting anesthetic that has been used in medical settings for decades thanks to its pain-relieving and sedative properties. More recently, ketamine has come under the spotlight for its success in alleviating symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, chronic pain, and other psychiatric disorders when used in small doses.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy at a Glance
Ketamine infusion therapy involves the administration of small, controlled doses of ketamine – known as ketamine infusions – through an IV drip. The infusions are usually given in a clinical setting, such as a hospital or outpatient clinic, and are typically administered by a licensed medical professional.
The length of the infusions can vary but typically lasts between 40 minutes to 1 hour. The number of infusions will depend on the individual, but a typical course of treatment constitutes two phases: an induction phase and a maintenance phase.
The induction phase is aimed at achieving remission or relief of symptoms and typically involves 6 to 10 infusions administered over two to three weeks. The maintenance phase is aimed at stabilizing the effects of treatment and preventing relapse and usually consists of occasional infusions given on an as-needed basis.
Who Can Benefit From Ketamine Infusions?
Ketamine infusions have been shown to be effective in treating a variety of mental health disorders and chronic pain conditions – especially when conventional treatments like medication and therapy have failed. Some of the conditions that may benefit from ketamine infusions include:
- Anxiety disorders
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Substance use disorders (SUDs)
- Bipolar disorder
- Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Suicidal ideation
- Chronic pain (especially pain with a neuropathic component)
Are Ketamine Infusions Safe?
Repeated ketamine infusions are generally considered safe when administered by a qualified healthcare provider in a clinical setting. However, like any other medication, some people may experience mild but short-lived side effects during and after infusion.
These include increased blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, and mild hallucinations/delusions. It is important to discuss any potential side effects with your ketamine provider before starting treatment.
The Bottom Line
Ketamine infusions have shown promise in the treatment of mental health conditions and chronic pain. While more research is needed to fully understand its long-term benefits and potential implications, ketamine therapy remains a viable treatment avenue for individuals who have not found relief with traditional approaches.
If you are considering ketamine infusions, it is advisable to work with a qualified healthcare provider to determine if this treatment option is appropriate for you. Your provider can help you understand the potential benefits and risks and help you make an informed decision about your treatment options