Ketamine Infusion Therapy

What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?

Ketamine therapy is taking the mental health world by storm with its fast, effective treatment of mental health disorders. Below, we’ll dive into the modern uses of ketamine and how it can help you. 

Ketamine…. Really?

That’s right— we’re talking about that ketamine. 

Ketamine was initially developed as an anesthetic for medical procedures in the 1960s (and is commonly known for its use as a recreational drug) and now has a renewed purpose in the realm of mental health and pain management. 

So, what is ketamine infusion therapy, exactly? Ketamine infusion therapy involves administering a low dose of ketamine intravenously under the supervision of a healthcare professional in a clinical setting. The therapy is noted for its rapid action and potential to provide relief when other treatments have failed. It has gained attention in recent years for its potential to provide rapid relief from severe anxiety, depression, and PTSD that have not responded well to traditional treatments. Unlike traditional oral antidepressants that can take weeks to show effects, ketamine therapy in San Diego may be able to offer significant improvement in symptoms within hours to days of treatment.  

How Ketamine Infusion Therapy Works

We’ve talked about what is ketamine infusion therapy, but how does it work? 

Imagine your brain is like a network of roads, and depression (or anxiety or PTSD) is like a traffic jam blocking the paths that normally help you feel happy or pain-free. Ketamine works with a specific spot in your brain (called the NMDA receptor) that’s involved in creating the “traffic jam,” helping to clear up the mess and making it easier for your brain to build new pathways. Ketamine infusion therapy is like opening new roads, creating shortcuts, or having a helicopter lift you above the jam, so the traffic (your thoughts and feelings) can move freely again. It can make you feel better much quicker than waiting for a regular road crew (traditional medicines) to fix the problem.

When used in a medical setting, ketamine is a powerful tool that has major implications for treating depression, anxiety, and PTSD. It’s not generally the first thing doctors try, but it’s an option when the usual methods aren’t working.

Applications of Ketamine Infusion Therapy

At this point, you might be wondering: what is ketamine infusion used for? Ketamine infusion therapy has shown promising outcomes in treating a variety of conditions, including:

Depression: Particularly treatment-resistant depression, where patients have not responded to standard treatments.

Anxiety Disorders: Including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): Offering rapid relief from symptoms for some individuals.

Chronic Pain Syndromes: This can include conditions such as CRPS (Complex Regional Pain Syndrome, fibromyalgia, and/or neuropathic pain.

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): Where traditional treatments have not been effective.

The Ketamine Infusion Treatment Process

Interested in learning more about ketamine infusion therapy? Here’s how the process works at Thrive:

The Assessment

We’ll start with a thorough assessment that helps us get to know you better. It will also help us determine whether ketamine treatment is right for you. The assessment process includes a detailed medical history, psychiatric assessment, and discussion of previous treatments and their outcomes. 

The Infusion Experience

The patient is seated or reclined in a comfortable, controlled environment. A member of our team administers ketamine through an intravenous (IV) line–the dosage and duration of which are carefully calibrated to the individual’s needs. Patients typically experience a disassociation or a sense of detachment from their immediate surroundings, which is a normal part of the therapy’s effect. The entire session lasts approximately 40 to 60 minutes, with patients monitored closely throughout the process.

Post-Treatment Care

After the infusion, patients spend a short period in a recovery area as the immediate effects of ketamine wear off. We’ll have had you pre-arrange for transportation home, because it’s not safe to drive immediately following an infusion. The response to treatment can vary, with some patients noticing improvements immediately, while others may require several sessions to achieve significant benefits. We provide close monitoring during and after the therapy to ensure the treatment’s effectiveness and to address any potential ketamine infusion side effects or complications.

Happy young businesswoman coach mentor leader laughing at group meeting

How Fast Can I Expect to See Results?

If you’re faced with chronic pain or life-compromising conditions such as depression or PTSD, it only makes sense to want quick results.  While some oral medications may take days or weeks to kick into effect, many patients report experiencing significant relief within minutes, hours, or a few days after their first ketamine infusion. Just bear in mind that individual responses can vary. So, while some people may feel better almost immediately, others may need multiple sessions before noticing improvements in their condition.

How Long Do the Effects of Ketamine Infusion Last?

Different patients will have different responses to treatment, and the duration of the benefits from ketamine infusion therapy depends on your individual circumstances and situation. For some, relief from symptoms can last for several weeks or even months after a series of infusions. However, the effects are not typically permanent, and many patients may require maintenance sessions to sustain the benefits. The frequency and number of maintenance infusions depend on each individual’s response to the treatment and the underlying condition being treated. Our expert Thrive Medical Specialists healthcare providers can provide guidance and establish a personalized treatment plan to help maintain the therapy’s effectiveness over time.

What Makes Someone a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy?

If you’re still curious about what is ketamine infusion therapy, you might also be wondering if it is right for you. Ideal candidates for ketamine infusion therapy are people who have not responded adequately to conventional treatments. This might include people suffering from severe forms of chronic pain, depression, anxiety disorders, and PTSD. You should have a clear diagnosis and history of treatment resistance to standard therapies. Additionally, you should undergo a comprehensive medical evaluation to rule out any health conditions that might contraindicate the use of ketamine, such as uncontrolled hypertension or a history of substance misuse. A thorough assessment by a Thrive healthcare provider specializing in ketamine therapy can determine if you are a suitable candidate for this treatment.

Ketamine Infusion Side Effects

As with any kind of treatment, different people respond in varying ways.  Ketamine infusion therapy is generally well-tolerated –  but it’s not without potential side effects. These may include nausea, dizziness, increased blood pressure, and disassociative experiences during the infusion. The good news is, these effects are typically temporary and resolve shortly after the session ends.

Can Ketamine Infusion Therapy Be Combined With Other Treatments?

Yes, it often is. Ketamine therapy should not be considered a stand-alone treatment, and can be used with traditional oral medications and psychotherapy. In fact, integrating ketamine therapy into a broader treatment plan often enhances outcomes, particularly for mental health conditions. For example, continuing psychotherapy while undergoing ketamine treatments has been shown to help people process experiences and develop coping strategies, thereby potentially extending the therapy’s benefits. As always, it’s crucial to coordinate care with your healthcare provider to ensure that treatments are complementary and safely administered.

How Much Does Ketamine Infusion Therapy Cost?

Understandably, the cost of treatment is often a consideration – but it shouldn’t be a barrier to quality care. That said, the cost of ketamine infusion therapy can significantly shift based on details such as geographical location, the provider’s expertise, and the specific condition being treated. Unfortunately, ketamine infusions are not universally covered by insurance plans, especially for conditions other than FDA-approved indications.  This being the case, you can always contact us, and our knowledgeable administrative staff can verify your insurance and/or help you assess financing solutions to help with the payment of treatment.

A Path Forward with Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine infusion therapy offers a new avenue for those struggling with treatment-resistant conditions, providing hope and rapid relief where other treatments have not succeeded. If you or someone you love are considering ketamine infusion therapy, contact Thrive Medical Specialists today to discuss whether this innovative treatment could be an option. Your next step toward healing begins here.