Your Therapy Session

A first-time ketamine therapy patient may experience many sensations and emotions during and after treatment. The following description outlines a typical experience, but individual results may vary.

  1. Pre-treatment assessment: Before starting the therapy, patients undergo a thorough evaluation by a mental health professional to determine if ketamine therapy is appropriate for their condition. They will discuss the patient’s medical history, medications, and mental health concerns (1).
  2. Preparation: Before the session, patients should avoid alcohol, recreational drugs, and certain medications. They should also arrange for a support person to accompany them home after the session (1).
  3. Administration: Ketamine can be administered via several methods, including intravenous (IV) infusion, intramuscular injection, or intranasal spray. The most common mental health treatment method is IV infusions, which allow for precise dosage control (2).
  4. The experience: During the infusion, patients may feel a range of sensations, such as dissociation, euphoria, or altered perceptions of time and space. These effects typically begin within minutes of administration and can last for the duration of the infusion, which is usually 40-60 minutes (3).
  5. After-effects: Once the infusion is complete, patients may feel lingering effects, such as drowsiness, dizziness, or mild confusion. These side effects usually resolve within a few hours, but it’s essential to have a support person present to ensure a safe return home (4).
  6. Follow-up: Ketamine therapy often involves multiple sessions over several weeks. Patients should maintain open communication with their healthcare providers to monitor progress and adjust treatment plans accordingly (5).
  7. After the initial ketamine therapy sessions, patients typically engage in follow-up care with their mental health professionals to assess the treatment’s effectiveness and determine if additional sessions are needed. Ketamine therapy can lead to rapid improvements in depressive symptoms, but the duration of these effects varies across individuals (5).
  8. Maintenance sessions might be recommended to extend the benefits of ketamine therapy. The frequency and number of these sessions depend on each patient’s response and specific needs. Patients must maintain a strong relationship with their healthcare providers to ensure appropriate adjustments to their treatment plans (5).
  9. During this period, patients might also engage in other therapeutic interventions, such as psychotherapy or support groups, to supplement the effects of ketamine therapy. These complementary approaches can help reinforce the progress made during the ketamine sessions and address any lingering mental health concerns (6).

In summary, a first-time ketamine therapy patient will undergo an initial assessment, treatment, and follow-up care. The experience during the therapy session can be intense and may include dissociation, euphoria, or altered perceptions. With ongoing communication between the patient and their healthcare provider, treatment plans can be adjusted to optimize the benefits of ketamine therapy for mental health.

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.

Krystal, J. H., Abdallah, C. G., Sanacora, G., Charney, D. S., & Duman, R. S. (2019). Ketamine: A paradigm shift for depression research and treatment. Neuron, 101(5), 774-778.

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 the treatment of chronic posttraumatic stress disorder: a randomized clinical trial. JAMA psychiatry, 71(6), 681-688.

Short, B., Fong, J., Galvez, V., Shelker, W., & Loo, C. K. (2018). Side-effects associated with ketamine use in depression: a systematic review. The Lancet Psychiatry, 5(1), 65-78.

Wilkinson, S. T., & Sanacora, G. (2019). A new generation of antidepressants: An update on the pharmaceutical pipeline for novel and rapid-acting therapeutics in mood disorders based on glutamate/GABA neurotransmitter systems. Drug discovery today, 24(2), 606-615.

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