Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Ketamine Infusion Therapy sturges family practice

Ketamine often get’s press because of its use as a recreational drug, but when administered in a clinical setting, ketamine can successfully and safely help mental health patients.

Mental health professionals and patients are advocating for ketamine therapy as a treatment for depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and a variety of other conditions. Despite being a relatively new form of treatment within the mental health arena, tens of thousands of people have already benefited from ketamine therapy.

Use the form below to learn more about ketamine infusion therapy.

How Ketamine Infusion Therapy Affects Our Mind

Rather than affecting one of the “monoamine” neurotransmitters (serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine) as standard antidepressants do, ketamine acts on glutamate, the most common chemical messenger in the brain. Glutamate regulates the brain’s ability to process cognitive thoughts, emotions, and neuroplasticity.

During a ketamine infusion while neuroplasticity is increased, our brain’s thought pathways can be disrupted. This allows for practitioners and patients to create new brain habits during sessions.

Another role glutamate plays in the brain is producing and balancing Gamma Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), a calming neurotransmitter. High levels of glutamate and low GABA can lead to anxiety while depleted glutamate and GABA can result in depression. 

Ketamine works to treat this imbalance in three different phases:

Immediate effect:  Activates the brain’s opiate receptors which can affect symptoms of depression. Patients generally feel relaxed, free from pain and in a sedated-like feeling during this stage.

Short term effect: Glutamate receptors are increased, which helps restore normal levels of glutamate and GABA. At this point, patients generally feel relaxed after treatment. Patients can experience feelings of invulnerability during this time.

Long term effect: The brain’s reaction to ketamine causes new neural receptors to grow which may “reset” the depressed brain. Ketamine may be particularly useful for patients whose depression involves suicidal thoughts.

How a Ketamine IV Session Is Administered

Ketamine treatments involve a physician, a mental health professional and a patient. The physician’s role is to administer the intravenous (IV) of ketamine to the patient while the mental health professional’s role is to help the patient navigate through the mental landscape they are experiencing. 

In the relationship described above, Sturges Family Practice plays the role of physician administering the IV – we do not provide a mental health professional. Most clients bring a mental health professional they already have a relationship with, but we can introduce you to professionals we believe have a deep understanding of this therapy. 

Ketamine therapy delivered via IV takes effect quickly and can be monitored accurately. As a result, treatment plans can be drafted with precision for each patient and individuals can gain relief for their symptoms more efficiently.

Ketamine Treatment Options

Ketamine can be used for a variety of clinical mental health problems including depression, anxiety, PTSD and addiction. The drug alone does not solve these challenges, but helps the mental health professional make progress with patients more effectively.  

Ketamine Treatment for Depression 

Although ketamine has been used as an aesthetic and pain reliever for a number of years, its exact impact on depression is not yet completely understood. Unlike other medical treatments for the condition, it is believed that ketamine has a positive effect on the symptoms of depression when it leaves the body, rather than when it enters it. 

Proponents of the treatment believe this because ketamine facilitates the regrowth of connections between the brain cells that are involved in regulating mood. In doing so, the patient’s mood is improved, and the pervasive symptoms of depression are alleviated.

Ketamine Treatment for Anxiety 

When used as a treatment for anxiety, ketamine transfusion therapy works in the same way. By facilitating the growth of connections between brain cells, it is believed that ketamine affects nerve signals in specific areas of the brain. 

In one study by Li N et al., the cells responsible for producing some neurotransmitters developed new synapse connections following treatment with ketamine. This ability to modify connections within the brain is known as neuroplasticity and it appears that ketamine is an effective facilitator of this. As such, ketamine therapy is being used to rebuild damaged connections, thus alleviating the symptoms of excessive anxiety.  

Ketamine Treatment for PTSD 

Post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is a condition that occurs following a traumatic experience. Commonly seen in veterans, many soldiers acquire the disorder whilst serving in the armed forces. However, any traumatic experience can be a precursor to PTSD and cases are seen in patients from all demographics. 

In many studies into the disorder, patients with PTSD are shown to have experienced changes to their brain. It is believed that these changes are responsible for the onset or exacerbation of their symptoms. By repairing this damage via neuroplasticity, ketamine therapy could effectively reduce the symptoms associated with PTSD.

Ketamine Treatment for Addiction 

Studies into addiction have also confirmed the brain undergoes changes as addiction develops. The addictive substance effectively creates a shortcut to the brain’s reward system by releasing excess amounts of dopamine. This often begins the cycle of addiction. Following this, further changes to the brain actually make the addictive substance less pleasurable, which prompts the individual to consume larger amounts in order to recreate the initial pleasurable experience they first encountered. 

As ketamine transfusion therapy is believed to be able to change the structure of the brain’s connections, there is the potential for it to be used to treat all types of addictions. By repairing and building new connections, the erroneous pathways established during the throws of addiction may become ineffective, thus minimizing the cravings and withdrawal symptoms experienced by patients. 

Use the form below to learn more about ketamine infusion therapy.

What does ketamine treatment feel like?

The sensation of ketamine therapy varies from patient to patient. In most cases, there are no hallucinogenic effects due to the relatively low dose of ketamine that is administered by Sturges Family Practice. While some patients have reported feelings of derealization whilst undergoing the treatment, these can be reversed by lowering the dose or administering a drug to counteract its effects, if necessary. 

Many people who have undergone ketamine therapy report feeling relaxed during their treatment sessions, but most people don’t report any symptoms or side effects while the transfusion is taking place. 

What to expect after ketamine treatment?

A small number of people report feeling a little floaty, tired or nauseous in the hours following their ketamine infusion, but these symptoms are typically mild and transient. As ketamine takes effect more quickly than other medications commonly used to treat mental health conditions, such as SSRIs, many patients report positive benefits within hours or days of their ketamine therapy. 

While further research into ketamine therapy is on-going, many patients who have received the treatment report a reduction in anxiety, a better mood, decreased suicidal ideation and resolution of the physical symptoms associated with their mental health condition.