Ketamine has been used as a dissasociative anesthetic since the 1970s, as well as for acute pain in operating and emergency rooms. In qualified hands, ketamine is safe for use as a depression treatment. In fact, ketamine effectively improves depressive symptoms in upwards of 70% of patients. Emergency room physicians and anesthesiologists are the most qualified individuals to safely administer and monitor ketamine.
As a treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychiatric disorders, mood disorders and chronic pain conditions, ketamine is administered at sub-anesthetic doses— well below those necessary to induce general anesthesia. The side effects of ketamine infusions are minimal. Most commonly, patients experience a dissociative feeling that passes after about 2-hours.
Historically, ketamine has been abused recreationally. In a recreational setting, ketamine is used in doses significantly higher than the ketamine infusions used to treat severe depression, anxiety, PTSD, psychiatric disorders and chronic pain conditions. Ketamine is still administered legally and safely as an anesthetic and acute pain reliever in emergency environments, and is very safe—when in the right hands. Many other legal and safe anesthetic and pain management drugs are abused for recreational use—ketamine is not unique in this manor. As highly trained physicians, we administer the proper dose of ketamine, at the proper time, under the proper settings.
There are a number of ways to administer ketamine for depression, though IV ketamine is the preferred route of administraion. Ketamine may also be administered orally, sublingually, intranasally & intramuscularly, though the unpredictability of response in these routes has made them difficult to justify. The vast majority of research about ketamine for depression have been performed using intravenous ketamine, and physicians continue to experience the greatest response via IV ketamine.
The numerous studies performed since the early 2000s show an impressive 70% effectiveness rate in the use of ketamine for depression and other mood disorders. The benefits can be life-changing, though they may manifest in ways that differ from some patients’ expectations. The effects of ketamine can be quite subtle, and though they occur almost immediately, it may take time for a patient to benefit fully. Some patients expect an instantaneous improvement after their ketamine treatments, but the reality is that ketamine improves depressive symptoms in a way that allows patients to engage in other healthy activities that promote mental health and overall wellbeing. At our ketamine clinic, we work closely with each patient to determine whether ketamine is a viable depression treatment option.
Your journey towards hope and health will begin as soon as we receive your Medical History form, and an Acknowledgement of Ongoing Care form, signed by your referring clinician. Once these documents are received, we can perform your initial consultation and first infusion—oftentimes on the same day.
You can expect to be at our ketamine clinic for about 90-120 minutes if you are receiving infusions for depression or anxiety, or longer if you are receiving ketamine infusions for chronoc pain conditions.
On the day of your infusion, please do not eat solid foods, milk, pulp-filled juices or soup for at least 6 hours prior to your appointment. You may enjoy water and other clear liquids, Gatorade, apple juice, black coffee or tea are acceptible until two hours prior to your appointment.
Before your infusion, we will place an IV, apply heart rate, blood pressure and O2 monitors, and will then begin the infusion. The infusion itself takes between 45 minutes and 4 hours, depending on whether you are receiving infusions for depression, psychiatric disorders, or chronic pain. We will monitor you for about 30 minutes after your infusion, after which you are free to leave with a friend, family member or loved one. You may not drive immediately after your infusion, and we ask that you please refrain from driving for 24-hours post-infusion.
Mild side effects include nausea, non-threatening hallucinations, or dizziness. We are equipped to supplement your infusion with an anti-nausea medication as needed. Most side effects last less than 2-hours post-infusion.
You will be awake and alert during your infusion, able to interact with the people around you. Patients often relax, or listen to music during their ketamine infusion.
The standard ketamine infusion protocol for depression is 4-6 infusions over the course of two weeks. Studies have shown that serial infusions are more effective than single infusions, and that the majority of patients who respond to ketamine treatment require maintenance infusions on an ongoing basis following the initial series. The frequency of these maintenance infusions varies from person to person. Ketamine infusions should not be viewed as a cure for depression, but rather a depression treatment that is a piece of a multi-modal approach that may include ongoing mental health therapy or other depression medication.
Yes, you should continue taking your antidepressant medications and other antipsychotic medications, as prescribed by your primary care physician or mental healthcare provider. It is important for us to review your medication list before beginning ketamine treatments. You will provide us with information about your current medications when you submit the Medical History form prior to your first ketamine infusion.
No. Contrary to popular belief, ketamine is not a physically additive substance. It has, however, been shown to result in a psychological addiction, specifically in those abusing it recreationally. Recreational ketamine use happens at much higher doses—and in higher frequency—than what we will administer in our Philadelphia and New Jersey ketamine clinic.
Unfortunately, no. At this time, no insurance companies have agreed to cover Ketamine infusions. However, we understand the financial burden this can place on patients, so we provide documentation that patients can use to seek partial reimbursement from their insurance provider on their own. Additionally, we work with a medical billing specialist to further assist you in submitting a claim for reimbursement on your own to your insurance. Lastly, we have multiple various finance options available for our clients. Our client services coordinator can also discuss financing options that are available to you.
Approximately 70-80% of patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) respond favorably to ketamine infusions.
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