Ketamine Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is an FDA approved anesthetic agent originally developed in 1962. It has been used primarily as an induction agent for general anesthesia in surgery for children, adults, and animals. Ketamine has a remarkable safety track record, even used in the pediatric population. Recently, it has been discovered that ketamine can be highly effective in treating depression, PTSD, Fibromyalgia, and other conditions.
What is the success rate in treating depression?
According to research studies, infusions of ketamine to treat depression can be effective for 60-80 % of individuals. Although the effects of ketamine usually last for several weeks, some people can remain depression free for months.
Do I need a referral from my primary care physician?
You do not need a referral, but if you have any history of childhood trauma or mood disorders, then you must have a current mental health practitioner.
What is the minimum age for treatment?
Viva Infusions can provide treatment for patients as young as 17 years old with caregiver and mental health practitioner consent.
How does it help treat depression?
Ketamine’s mechanism of action is completely different from that of any other antidepressant medication. The exact mechanism of action that allows ketamine to relieve depression is complex and still under investigation.
What we know is that it works on a neurotransmitter called glutamate which leads to the production of an important growth factor that helps the brain repair damaged neurons affected by stress and mental illness. Thus, ketamine, can improve mood within hours/days and cause the regeneration of nerve cells over time.
What disorders can ketamine infusions treat?
At Viva Infusions, we focus on using evidence-based research to administer and treat our patients with ketamine infusion therapy. Our primary focus is to help treat mental illness and provide an option to those who have not had success with traditional medicines or psychotherapy. Promising data has demonstrated robust effects in treating severe, chronic, treatment-resistant depression.
Thus, anyone diagnosed with major depression, bipolar depression, postpartum depression, or dysthymia could benefit from ketamine infusions. Research has also shown that ketamine can also be effective in treating Fibromyalgia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicidal ideation. In addition, ketamine shows promise in alleviating symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and a number of anxiety disorders.
Are there any specific medical conditions that would prevent me from receiving treatment?
Ketamine infusion therapy is not indicated for patients diagnosed with psychosis or schizophrenia. If you have high blood pressure, cardiac, and/or pulmonary issues it may be necessary for your primary care physician to provide medical clearance before beginning your ketamine infusions.
Can I eat and/or drink prior to my infusion?
Please avoid any kind of solid foods and/or milk for 6 hours prior to your ketamine infusion. You may drink clear liquids (i.e., water, fruit juices without pulp, carbonated beverages, clear tea, and black coffee) up until 2 hours before your infusion. Absolutely avoid alcohol or the use of any illicit drugs. These substances are extremely dangerous in combination with ketamine.
Will I be asleep during the procedure?
No. The dose of ketamine you will receive does not cause any loss of consciousness.
What is the infusion process like?
Ketamine is administered intravenously very slowly over 45 minutes (for mood disorders) or 4 hours (for pain). At the start of the infusion, you may not have noticeable effects, but as the infusion progresses, you may encounter a feeling of “lightness” or “floating,” which for some feels as a “weight being lifted off their shoulders”. Most patients describe mild dissociative symptoms that are generally well tolerated. You will be monitored throughout the infusion, and we are prepared to treat any unpleasant side effects during the procedure. Within 15 minutes of completing the infusion, you will start to regain your senses and your thinking will return to normal.
How do I know if the infusion worked? How should I expect to feel afterwards?
Prior to your first treatment, we will ask you to fill out a few brief questionnaires that will provide a baseline. We will then follow up after each infusion to determine response. If needed, we can adjust the treatment accordingly to maximize benefits and minimize any adverse effects. After the infusion, you may notice positive effects as soon as 30 minutes post infusion but typically improvements begin several hours post-treatment.
How long will the effects last?
The effects of a single infusion typically last up to two weeks. After a series of six infusions, some people could remain symptom free for several months. We also offer the option of booster infusions which can be given monthly or a few times per year as needed.
What is the recommended course of treatment?
A total of six infusions is recommended for mood disorders within a 3-week period in order to maximize the effects of ketamine. Pain disorders will require 3-5 consecutive daily infusions. The repair and growth of new nerve cells over time is what can lead to long lasting improvements in symptoms. However, the total length of treatment depends on everyone’s unique circumstances.
Should I continue seeing my psychiatrist? What if I don’t have one?
We recommend that our patients continue working with their outpatient providers for medication management and/or psychotherapy. If you do not have a psychiatrist or therapist, Viva Infusions can facilitate a referral.
Should I be concerned about any risks of addiction with ketamine therapy?
No, ketamine has been proven safe in humans. It has been used for years as a surgical anesthetic in children and in trauma management. Although it has been abused recreationally at much higher doses as a club drug, there is no evidence that ketamine is addictive. In addition, ketamine will be administered under medical supervision at subanesthetic doses.
Are they covered by health insurance?
Ketamine treatment plans vary in cost dependent on treatment frequency. Unfortunately, insurance does not cover infusions. Payment currently is cash only.
Will I be treated as an outpatient?
Yes, ketamine infusions are an outpatient procedure requiring no hospital stay. You will need a driver when leaving our facility.
Are there any medications that can interfere with ketamine treatment?
Patients should not take benzodiazepines or any prescribed narcotics on the day of their infusion.
Will I be required to stop taking my psychiatric medications?
No, there is no need to stop any of the medications you are currently taking, except for benzodiazepines. It is best not to have benzos 24 hours prior to infusion and 4 hours after infusion. Treatment plan will be based on the ability to with hold these medications that can interact with the effectiveness of ketamine.