Subjective Experience

Ketamine therapy is a relatively novel treatment for various mental health disorders, such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The therapy involves administering low doses of ketamine, usually intravenously, to the patient. It is important to note that the subjective experience of ketamine therapy can vary significantly among individuals. Here are some common themes that have been reported in the literature:

  1. Dissociation: Ketamine can induce a dissociative state, in which patients may feel detached from their bodies and surroundings. They may experience a sense of floating or being in a dreamlike state (Feder et al., 2014).
  2. Perceptual changes: Patients might experience altered perceptions of time, space, and body sensations, as well as visual or auditory hallucinations (Krystal et al., 1994).
  3. Emotional experiences: Some patients report intense and vivid emotional experiences, which can range from euphoria and a sense of interconnectedness to fear and anxiety (Luckenbaugh et al., 2014).
  4. Cognitive effects: Ketamine therapy can lead to changes in thought patterns, with patients experiencing racing thoughts, difficulty concentrating, or a heightened sense of introspection (Berman et al., 2000).
  5. Therapeutic effects: Following the treatment, many patients report improvements in their mood and a reduction in depressive or anxious symptoms. These effects can be rapid and long-lasting, even in cases where traditional antidepressants have not been effective (Murrough et al., 2013).
  6. Ego-Death: At high doses, one might undergo ego-death.

It is important to note that the intensity and duration of these experiences can vary depending on the individual and the dosage of ketamine administered. Also, the therapy is usually conducted in a controlled clinical setting under the supervision of a healthcare professional to ensure the safety and comfort of the patient.

Berman, R. M., Cappiello, A., Anand, A., Oren, D. A., Heninger, G. R., Charney, D. S., & Krystal, J. H. (2000). Antidepressant effects of ketamine in depressed patients. Biological Psychiatry, 47(4), 351-354.

Feder, A., Parides, M. K., Murrough, J. W., Perez, A. M., Morgan, J. E., Saxena, S., … & Charney, D. S. (2014). Efficacy of intravenous ketamine for treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(6), 681-688.

Krystal, J. H., Karper, L. P., Seibyl, J. P., Freeman, G. K., Delaney, R., Bremner, J. D., … & Charney, D. S. (1994). Subanesthetic effects of the noncompetitive NMDA antagonist, ketamine, in humans: psychotomimetic, perceptual, cognitive, and neuroendocrine responses. Archives of General Psychiatry, 51(3), 199-214.

Luckenbaugh, D. A., Niciu, M. J., Ionescu, D. F., Nolan, N. M., Richards, E. M., Brutsche, N. E., … & Zarate Jr, C. A. (2014). Do the dissociative side effects of ketamine mediate its antidepressant effects?. Journal of Affective Disorders, 159, 56-61.

Murrough, J. W., Iosifescu, D. V., Chang, L. C., Al Jurdi, R. K., Green, C. E., Perez, A. M., …

& Charney, D. S. (2013). Antidepressant efficacy of ketamine in treatment-resistant major depression: a two-site randomized controlled trial. The American Journal of Psychiatry, 170(10), 1134-1142.

Sanacora, G., Frye, M. A., McDonald, W., Mathew, S. J., Turner, M. S., Schatzberg, A. F., … & Nemeroff, C. B. (2017). A consensus statement on the use of ketamine in the treatment of mood disorders. JAMA Psychiatry, 74(4), 399-405.

Xu, Y., Hackett, M., Carter, G., Loo, C., Gálvez, V., Glozier, N., … & Glue, P. (2016). Effects of low-dose and very low-dose ketamine among patients with major depression: a systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, 19(4), pyv124.

Notify of

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments