FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
WHAT IS KETAMINE?
Ketamine is a medicine historically used for anesthesia during surgeries and medical procedures. It was synthesized in the 1960s and is FDA-approved for procedural sedation and anesthesia. It is widely used in hospitals and ERs and is on the World Health Organization's "List of Essential Medicines." Ketamine is now being used "off-label" to treat depression, as well as anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and some chronic pain disorders. This medication has a long track record for its safety when used appropriately.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The exact mechanism of how ketamine works in depression, anxiety, and chronic pain is not fully known. However, we do know that ketamine works on the NMDA receptor to block the glutamate neurotransmitter. And the scientific study is showing ketamine improves the health of the neurons (brain cells) by increasing the connection between the neurons that are involved in determining mood and improving the brain’s ability to adapt (aka neuroplasticity).
Ketamine also changes the way the central nervous system processes pain. It’s like hitting the reset button on your computer to restore normal pain processing. Research in animal models also shows the potential for ketamine to increase resilience and recovery from stressful traumatic events which can trigger or cause depression and anxiety disorders.
Furthermore, ketamine decreases activity in the Default Mode Network (DMN) of the brain, which is more active in those with depression, anxiety, and chronic pain.
HOW DO I KNOW IF KETAMINE IS FOR ME?
Ketamine infusions may be for you if you suffer from anxiety disorders, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), pain disorders, or depression. Many who have not found relief from traditional oral medications for these disorders often benefit from ketamine infusions. This may be for you if you want to avoid the side effects of more traditional treatments or if current treatments are not working for you.
IS KETAMINE ADDICTIVE?
Ketamine has a long proven track record of being a safe FDA-approved anesthetic since 1970. It is part of the List of Essential Medications the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends to have in every hospital. Addiction has not been found in individuals who receive ketamine infusion therapy at the dosing, treatment, and schedule in the appropriate setting with a medical professional.
ISN’T KETAMINE A STREET DRUG?
Ketamine, also called "Special K", "Kit Kat", or "K", has been used as a recreational drug and like many pharmaceuticals, can be dangerous if not administered properly under the care of trained medical professionals. Ketamine IV therapy at Illumma is carefully dosed with a set duration in a soothing setting under medical observation to prevent any risks associated with over-use or abuse.
WILL I CONTINUE TO FOLLOW UP WITH MY DOCTOR, PSYCHIATRIST, PSYCHOLOGIST, AND/OR THERAPIST?
Yes. We are serving in a consulting capacity to provide this infusion and recommend to continue seeing your physician.
IF KETAMINE INFUSIONS ARE SO GREAT, WHY AREN’T ALL DOCTORS PROVIDING THIS SERVICE?
Three main reasons:
1. Comfort with administering the medication
Outside of ER doctors and anesthesiologists, few other medical specialists are trained in administering ketamine.
2. Awareness of this alternative uses
While ketamine is widely known for its effectiveness in the operating room, many doctors are simply not educated on its success with mental illness and pain management.
3. Acceptance of this treatment
In addition to the doctors who are unaware of the full spectrum of ketamine's benefits, there are others who are bound to the traditional model of pharmacology and are not willing to consider alternatives despite the growing evidence.
HOW LONG IS THE APPOINTMENT FOR THE KETAMINE INFUSION?
For mental health infusions, the medication is delivered over one hour and the appointment is for up to 2hours to allow for pre-treatment activities and recovery. For analgesic (pain) infusions, the medication is delivered over two hours and the appointment lasts up to 3 hours for pre-treatment activities and recovery. Pre-treatment activities include starting the IV, application of monitoring equipment and an assessment by one of Illumma's Advanced Practice Providers.
HOW AM I GOING TO FEEL DURING THE INFUSION?
Some patients report feeling like they are in a dream or they feel sedated. Some feel like they have changes in thought processes, vision, and or speech. If you experience unwanted sensations or unpleasant hallucinations, the amount of the medication administered or the speed of infusion may be adjusted to reduce these experiences. Remember, there will always be a healthcare professional close by making sure you are safe and well taken care of during your infusion.
HOW AM I GOING TO FEEL AFTER THE INFUSION?
Many patients recover 20-30 minutes after the infusion. You may feel a little tired, notice a mild difficulty in walking, or even “cloudy thinking” for a few hours after. We advise you to take it easy and have a relaxing day following the infusion. We will make sure you are ready and safe after your infusion before we let you go home!
WHAT SIDE EFFECTS DOES KETAMINE HAVE?
Ketamine is a dissociative drug, meaning that some people will have an out of body experience. It can also cause nausea, vomiting, and fatigue afterward. In some cases, it can raise blood pressure and pulse. We will monitor you closely at all times and trained medical professionals will be readily available at your side. One long-term side effect that is only known to occur in the abuse populations is bladder irritation (AKA cystitis). The risk of this with monitored ketamine infusions is extremely low.
HOW LONG WILL THE RESULTS LAST?
A single infusion typically lasts anywhere from a few days to a month. A standard mental health series, of 6 infusions, may last anywhere from weeks to months, and often a single booster infusion when effects are wearing off can restore and extend response. Every patient responds differently, and some patients get several months of relief with just a few infusions.
HOW MANY TREATMENTS WILL I NEED?
Ketamine infusion treatments occur in 2 steps: Initiation and Maintenance. At Illumma, we recognize each individual is unique, thus, we tailor each treatment protocol to the individual based on your experience and reaction to the medication.
That being said, for most mental health treatments, we have found that the maximum benefits occur from 6 infusions, over 2-4 weeks, receiving 2-3 infusions per week.
Chronic pain conditions require a consult to assess need and determine protocol.
CAN I DRINK OR EAT BEFORE MY INFUSION?
Have a light meal before your infusion and being well hydrated the day before and the day can reduce nausea but we do administer anti-nausea medication as needed for each patient.
WHAT SHOULD I WEAR THE DAY OF MY INFUSION?
Loose, comfortable clothing.
CAN I DRIVE TO MY INFUSION APPOINTMENT?
No. Ketamine can impair your thinking 24 to 48 hours after the infusion. So it is mandatory a trusted friend or family member drives you to and from your appointments. We also recommend refraining from operating heavy machinery, avoid watching small children, participating in strenuous activities, or signing or entering into any legal contracts for at least 24 hours after your infusion.
If you are unable to find a friend or family member to transport your home, we may allow you to take a ride-sharing service or taxi home.
DO I NEED TO STOP ANY OF MY MEDS?
Some medications should be held prior to your infusion. These will be identified during your consultation with one of our Advanced Practice Providers. We do not recommend any changes to your medication routine just prior to or during ketamine therapy. The side effects of such changes can interfere with the effectiveness of ketamine therapy.
WHO SHOULDN’T TAKE KETAMINE, I.E. ARE THERE CONDITIONS THAT MAKE KETAMINE DANGEROUS OR INEFFECTIVE?
Yes. If you are experiencing the following: Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension); Unstable heart disease (arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, chest pain etc.); Untreated thyroid disease; Active substance abuse; Active manic phase of bipolar disorder; Active delusions and hallucination symptoms (not on medications or while taking street drugs). If you have any of the above the day of your infusions, you, unfortunately, will not be able to receive your infusion.
WHAT IS THE RESPONSE RATE?
Research suggests improvement in 70-80% of patients who are treated with ketamine for depression.
IF KETAMINE THERAPY IS WORKING FOR ME, HOW SOON WILL I BEGIN TO FEEL BETTER OR NOTICE A DIFFERENCE?
For some people, they can experience positive effects within an hour of finishing the infusion. For others, they will not notice an effect until after their second or third infusion. Commonly, the effect is gradual and subtle, noticing thoughts of sadness and hopelessness to begin to lift over time. Occasionally some people may have a dramatic effect. Function (going out, doing things you enjoy, work) improves before mood does. With the improved function you are able to more fully participate and engage in your treatment plan, thus improving your success rate!
WHAT IS THE PRICE OF KETAMINE INFUSIONS?
To learn more about this investment in your healing, please check out the Invest in YOU page of our website.
Our goal, at Illumma, is to make ketamine therapy available to as many people as possible and not allow financial barriers to stand in the way of anyone's healing. To learn more about all of our financing option check out our Invest in YOU page.
WHERE CAN I GET MORE INFORMATION ABOUT KETAMINE?