FAQ: What to Expect During a Ketamine Treatment
What is the process for scheduling ketamine infusion therapy?
Those interested in scheduling for a treatment must first have a consultation with one of Shrink Savannah's professional staff to review medical history and discuss the treatment process. Patients are then scheduled for six (6) sessions within a two-three week period of time, with each session lasting approximately one hour.
How do I prepare?
The day of your scheduled infusion or SPRAVATO treatment, we advise you to refrain from eating or drinking within four (4) hours of your scheduled appointment. Water is fine to drink. Loose-fitting clothes are suggested for your comfort.
During a ketamine infusion, patients are connected to an IV and a low dose of ketamine is administered for about 45-50 minutes.
You will receive treatment in a private room. You may have a loved one or friend accompany you. A Shrink Savannah medical team member remains in the room with you throughout the treatment to ensure you are comfortable. As the ketamine is delivered at a low and controlled dosage, your blood pressure, pulse and oxygen saturation are monitored. For your comfort, Shrink Savannah does have eye masks, ear plugs and blankets available. If there is anything we can do to help make your experience more comfortable, just let us know!
Following your treatment:
For SPRAVATO treatments, there is a two-hour observation period for your safety. IV infusion patients have a minimal observation and recovery time period and are ready to leave our office soon after their treatment.
Can I drive myself home?
No. You will not be able to drive for the rest of the day following a Ketamine infusion or SPRAVATO treatment. Please arrange for a trusted friend or family member to pick you up following your treatment. If you must use a ride-sharing service, Shrink Savannah recommends you have a friend or family member with you.
Are there side effects?
Some patients may experience dizziness, nausea, dissociation or fatigue during or following their treatment.
How soon will I experience results?
Following a Ketamine treatment, many people start to feel benefits within a few hours or the next morning. Some may take multiple treatments before the effects are experienced.
Will I be treated as an outpatient?
Yes, ketamine infusions for depression are outpatient procedures requiring no hospital admission.
Is ketamine used to treat all patients with depression?
No, mild to moderate depression is successfully treated by mental health professionals with drugs and psychotherapy. The treatment of severe depression is more difficult and requires a higher level of care, such as ECT, TMS, and now ketamine therapy. Ketamine infusion therapy is reserved for those patients with severe depression that is considered otherwise treatment resistant.
Is it likely that my severe depression will respond to ketamine infusion therapy?
Patients we deem good candidates for ketamine infusion therapy are considered treatment resistant. That is, they have not responded to available antidepressant medications and in many cases have not responded to ECT or TMS. It is impossible to predict who will respond to ketamine, but statistically 2 out of 3 patients do show a dramatic improvement in their mood and 3 out of 4 will cease to have suicide ideation. It typically takes two treatments to determine if ketamine infusions can help in your specific case.
How many infusions will I need and how long will I feel better?
If you experience a favorable response to the first two infusions, a total of six is recommended within a twelve-day period. That will maximize the ketamine effect on new dendrite and synapse growth. Because there is no way to predict what your ongoing needs will be, we will treat each patient on a case-by-case basis to determine the right maintenance plan.
If ketamine does work, will I be on it for the rest of my life?
No, right now ketamine infusion therapy is, perhaps, the most exciting and successful new treatment for severe depression. But, there are large pharmaceutical companies developing ketamine-like drugs for more convenient nasal and oral administration. It may be a few years, but those drugs will become available. In the meantime, ketamine infusion has been proven effective in most cases.
How long does an infusion take?
About an hour, with an additional half hour before discharge.
Will I be asleep?
No. The dose of ketamine you will receive does not cause any loss of consciousness.
What will I experience during the infusion?
Most patients experience a mild dissociation or inner reflective experience that is generally well tolerated. If you find it unpleasant we can easily adjust. Within 15 minutes of ending the infusion your thinking will be clear. There are no delayed “flashbacks.”
What is Ketamine Assisted Therapy?
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy allows patients access to the felt-sense of emotional content and difficult unconscious thoughts, opening up a door allowing those thoughts to be accessed and processed with the assistance of a therapist.
Are there any medications that will interfere with ketamine treatment?
Will I be required to stop all other antidepressant medications that I am taking?
No, there is no need to stop any medications you are taking.
Are there any medical conditions that will exclude me from treatment?
Almost none. Uncontrolled high blood pressure or heart failure should be addressed.
Should I be concerned about any risks or addiction with ketamine therapy?
No, ketamine has been proven safe in humans over five decades in and out of hospitals and battle fields for surgical anesthesia and trauma management. Those patients experience longer exposures and at much higher doses than those used to treat severe depression. Although it has been abused recreationally in high doses as a “club drug”, there is no evidence that ketamine is addictive.