What Is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a medication that doctors use as an anesthetic to induce loss of consciousness. Effects include sedation and reduced sensation of pain.
The drug is a Schedule III non-narcotic that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for use only as a general anesthetic. However, doctors sometimes prescribe it for “off-label” uses, such as depression.
Off-label means using the drugs to treat conditions the FDA has not approved. While ketamine is safe to use in controlled medical practice, it becomes hazardous if someone takes it for recreational use.
Ketamine for Mood Disorders
It is believed by scientists that during times of depression, the number of synapses in our brain declines due to the stress brought on by depression.
Recent research shows that within 1 day of having a ketamine infusion, those lost connections in the brain start to come back to life. The more synapses that can be regrown, the better the antidepressant effect of ketamine works for patients.
Another amazing characteristic of ketamine treatments is how quickly they work to relieve symptoms.
Unlike many medications that can take months to provide results, ketamine has been able to provide immediate relief in many cases, while a large number of people feel better within 1 to 3 days of their first infusion session.
Ketamine for Chronic Pain
Exactly how ketamine works to help chronic pain is unclear. Studies show that it’s much more complex than we previously thought.
We know that ketamine attaches to specific areas of the spinal cord and brain that are responsible for pain signals and emotion. After it attaches, it leads to changes that may decrease pain and improve mood.
Patients who battle chronic pain know that there are multiple treatments that can provide some degree of relief. Ketamine infusions give these patients one more option in that fight.
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Common Question About Ketamine Treatment
Absolutely. Ketamine has been used safely for decades in emergency rooms, operating rooms, and in the military around the world. At Three Rivers Wellness, we have extensive knowledge and a deep understanding of ketamine and know how to carefully administer it.
The dose is low and given as a slow infusion so you remain awake. As nurse practitioners with years of experience in the emergency and urgent care setting, you can trust that you are in good hands. We vigilantly monitor your infusions and know how to manage the extreme rare event of a complication.
When administered by a highly trained provider, ketamine therapy is a safe and effective treatment for mood disorders and chronic pain.
Ketamine is approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic and analgesic in the setting of operating rooms and emergency departments. Outpatient ketamine treatment for depression, along with PTSD, anxiety, OCD, postpartum depression, and bipolar disorder are not approved by the FDA. When it is used in this way, it is considered an “off-label” use of the medicine.
Ketamine therapy has shown to be effective for people suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, PTSD, OCD, and chronic pain conditions such as fibromyalgia.
A meta-analysis of multiple research studies has demonstrated that 70% or more of treatment resistant patients will experience significant symptom relief after receiving the initial round of six low-dose infusions.
This is a drastic improvement compared to the 40% success rate of traditional antidepressant medications. However, even with such a high success rate, it is important to note that ketamine therapy does not work for everyone.
While the majority of patients will experience notable symptom relief after their first infusion, others may experience a more gradual improvement. This is a dramatic difference compared to the typical 6-8 week onset of most oral antidepressant medications. Our pain patients usually have symptom relief after their first infusion series.
Research has shown that an initial series of 6 infusions given over a two-three week period provides the greatest symptom relief for our mental health patients. You will then enter the “maintenance phase” and return for booster infusions when you feel that the effects of the ketamine are starting to wear off.
Our pain patients receive an initial series of 4 infusion days. These can be scheduled consecutively or every other day. Some of our pain patients may need a series of up to 10 consecutive days to experience the greatest relief. Once your loading doses are complete, you will then enter the “maintenance phase” and return for boosters as needed.
Every patient is unique. The duration of relief between infusions varies from person to person. Some patients will have relief for 1-2 months while others have longer lasting relief of 3-6 months. They are available as you feel they are needed. This is why ongoing mood monitoring is so important.
Ketamine infusions are extremely well tolerated. It is possible, though uncommon, to experience dizziness or mild nausea. We have IV anti-nausea medications that we can give you if you need them at any time. Hallucinations are a frequent concern, however, with the low doses used, it is extremely rare.
Unless otherwise specified by your doctor, you should continue to take your regular medications. Ketamine therapy often enables one to decrease or completely stop their oral medications. We will collaborate with your provider to guide you through any changes to your medication regimen.
If you prefer to bring someone, they are welcome, but you do not need anyone to accompany you. If you do bring someone, they are welcome to wait in the waiting room or join you in the infusion room. However, even if you arrive alone, you will still require a ride home and will not be able to drive a car for the rest of the day.
- Free Initial Phone Consultation (up to 15 minutes).
- First Office Visit to Establish Care – $100 (up to 60 minute visit).
- Ketamine infusions for Mental Health:
- Initial Loading Dose – Six 40-60 minute infusions.
- $2,100 total or $1,890 if paid in full.
- Single Booster Infusions – $350 per infusion as needed.
- Ketamine Infusions for Chronic Pain:
- Initial Loading Dose – Four 2-4 hour infusions.
- $2,800 total or $2,520 if paid in full.
- Single Booster Infusions – starting at $700 per infusion as needed.
There are outside patient financing options available. Please ask! Special pricing for Active Duty Military, Veterans, Fire, EMS, Law Enforcement and Medical Personnel.
Your phone consultation with the provider typically lasts about 15 minutes. We use this time to answer all your questions and concerns and determine if you are an appropriate candidate for ketamine therapy. Your initial visit should be up to 60 minutes, and that is where we will perform a full medical history and physical, as well as formulate a treatment plan.
Your first ketamine infusion visit will last around 1.5 hours for mental health and 2.5 to 4 hours for pain infusions. Subsequent visits are usually around 1.5 hours for mental health infusions and 2.5-4 hours for pain infusions. You will need to recover from the treatment prior to leaving our office.
That includes drinking some water to ensure that you are safe to leave with minimal complications. We do not rush any of our patients. You will remain in our care until it is safe to go home.
Ketamine works in an entirely different way compared to common antidepressant medications. It inhibits NMDA receptors in your brain and leads to increased neuronal activity and the formation of new neuronal connections.
This is also why results are seen so much faster with ketamine therapy. Traditional antidepressants take a long time to start working as it takes time for new neurons to form. Ketamine, on the other hand, works by increasing communication between existing neurons.
Ketamine has been abused when used recreationally. When given in a clinical environment with controlled administration and therapeutic dosing, there is no evidence that ketamine is addictive.
Possibly. It depends on what your employer tests. If you are a current patient of ours and require a drug test, we will gladly provide records of your infusions, upon your request.
For your safety, do not eat any solid foods for at least 6 hours prior to your treatment. However, you can have clear liquids (water, tea, coffee, juice, etc) up to 2 hours prior to your treatment.
No, it is not safe to drive on the day of treatment. You will need a ride planned out beforehand by either family or a friend. We do not recommend ride sharing services.
We recommend getting your treatments on a day when you are not working. You can resume normal function the following day.