Most patients find the infusion experience to be quite relaxing and pleasant. You won’t lose consciousness or awareness of your surroundings.
Your first appointment will begin with a consultation with Dr. Brooks or another physician in one of our affiliated offices. The doctor will speak with you to further assess your mental and physical health history, and we’ll spend as much time as necessary to answer any questions you may have. The initial dose will be based mostly on your weight with minor adjustments for your age and physical condition. Subsequent doses may be adjusted depending on your response to the initial infusion. The infusion will last approximately 60 minutes for depression, PTSD, and bi-polar depression patients, and for patients suffering from other treatable mood disorders.
When you arrive for your infusion, one of our nurses will bring you to a comfortable, private treatment room. Feel free to stay in your street clothes throughout the process. Family members or friends are welcome to stay in the room with you if you so choose.
To get started, we will take an initial set of vital signs. The doctor or nurse will then locate a vein on your arm, wrist or hand and almost painlessly insert a tiny needle to introduce a thin, flexible IV tube. You will feel a small prick when the needle first enters the skin, which may temporarily feel a bit uncomfortable, but this slight “pin prick” sensation doesn’t last. The tube is connected to a bag of fluid raised a couple feet above you containing your required dose of ketamine, which will be delivered directly into your bloodstream.
During the procedure, we’ll monitor your blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen saturation with non-invasive equipment. Our staff will also monitor your response to the medication to make sure your ketamine drip rate is properly adjusted. After about 60 minutes, we will remove the tube and you will be able to relax in your room until you feel ready to leave.
Each of our treatment rooms has dimmable lighting so you may choose to lower the lights while you’re undergoing treatment. Most patients also bring a mobile device set up with their favorite play list along with headphones or earbuds to listen to music. If you prefer to stream music, each treatment room is outfitted with WIFI.
It’s unusual, but some patients experience a slight bit of nausea during treatment. If you do become nauseous, we can help control it by adding anti-nausea medication to the IV. If you have a history of getting nauseous easily or being prone to motion sickness, please notify us in advance since we may want to add an antiemetic before the treatment begins.
When the infusion ends, you will begin to regain your full faculties within minutes and will be allowed to relax in your treatment room until you feel ready to leave. The effects are most often completely gone after 15-20 minutes. Some patients feel fatigued afterwards but others feel well enough to resume their day or even return to work.
Your experience during the ketamine infusion is far less mysterious or frightening than you may have heard. Since the therapeutic dose for depression, PTSD, anxiety, and mood disorders is quite low – far less than when the medication is used as an anesthetic during surgical procedures or abused recreationally – the experience is relatively mild and for many people somewhat pleasurable.
The ketamine will begin to have its effect within minutes after the infusion begins. You will not hallucinate or lose consciousness. If accompanied by a friend or relative, you will be able to carry on a coherent conversation. If here alone, you can sit quietly while you listen to your music. Physically, you will feel extremely relaxed but your mind will be fully engaged.
Some patients experience a dissociative effect while relaxing with their music. During this period, you may experience what some patients describe as an “out of body” sensation. Most patients enjoy this experience, but some find it a bit unusual. Many patients find that some level of dissociation is associated with a subsequent better response to the ketamine infusion.
It is possible that you may have brief moments of fright during the infusion. This is normal, especially for those who begin the infusion process in a state of high anxiety or who get especially tense at not being in total control. You will never be in any danger, however, and our staff will always be monitoring your progress.
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While there is every reason to believe that ketamine infusion therapy will work for you, you must remain realistic. While 70%-80% of our otherwise treatment-resistant patients experience significant relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD and suicidal ideation, ketamine infusions do not work for everyone. For the majority who DO experience significant relief, the alleviation of symptoms can be profound. For some, relief of symptoms can be immediate, occurring within hours of the initial infusion. For others, it may take several days or infusions, and the change in mood and outlook may be more subtle and grow over time. Either way, when symptoms are relieved, patients can quickly gain new abilities, become more productive, escape the loop of negative thinking, feel lighter and happier, and learn to love life again. For many patients, ketamine therapy becomes life-changing.