Learn More About Ketamine

Ketamine has been around since the early 1960’s. It was created to provide safe, reliable sedation and pain relief to patients of all ages without depressing their vital functions. In the Vietnam War, ketamine was referred to as “the buddy drug” because it was so safe to administer, even your untrained “buddy” on the battlefield could administer it to a wounded soldier without fear of over-sedation. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic which means it causes a disassociation between the thalamus and the limbic system. Think of it as a disassociation between the mind and the body. Unlike other anesthetics which puts the brain and the body to sleep, ketamine puts the brain to sleep without suppressing the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, blood pressure and breathing.

This effect is often referred to as “lights on, but no one is home”.  It is this very same effect on the brain that exerts the neuro-regeneration responsible for the success we have seen in the treatment of mood disorders and neuropathic pain. The mild disassociation seen by with low-dose ketamine infusion causes an increase production and release of a protein called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) which creates new, healthy neuronal connections. This is the reason why ketamine infusion therapy has such a high rate of success. Think of ketamine infusion therapy as a way of washing away all the neuronal connections that have been damaged by years of anxiety, pain, and depression and starting with a clean slate.

How Do I Get Started? What Should I Expect from my First Infusion? 

The first step is to determine if you are a candidate for ketamine infusions. If we decide that you are, we’ll ask you to complete our patient intake forms. You will need your primary care or mental health physician’s signature on some of these forms. Upon receipt of your patient intake forms, we’ll schedule your initial consultation. At your consultation, we’ll review your symptoms, explain the process, and answer any questions you may have. In some cases, it’s possible to receive your first infusion on the same day as your initial consultation.

  • On the day of your first infusion, please follow these instructions:
  • Don’t eat solid foods, soup or pulpy juices for 6-hours prior to your infusion
  • Don’t drink any liquids within 2-hours of your infusion time
  • Please arrive at our clinic 15-minutes prior to your infusion time

Before your infusion, we’ll get you comfortably settled into one of our treatment rooms. We’ll apply monitors for your heart rate, rhythm, blood pressure and oxygen level. We’ll place your IV and begin the infusion. Ketamine infusions for depression typically last about 40-minutes, while ketamine for chronic pain infusions can last up to 4-hours.

Ketamine infusion side effects are often mild and short-lived, but can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Non-threatening hallucinations
  • Nausea—we can administer an anti-nausea medication should you experience this side effect

During your infusion, just relax and listen to music if you like. You will be in a sedated euphoric-like state but arousable, able to speak with your nurse or a family member, though most patients choose to just relax.

After your ketamine infusion, we’ll monitor your vitals for about 30-minutes before releasing you into the care of a friend or family member. Please don’t drive or operate machinery for 24-hours post-infusion.