Ketamine Therapy: How It Works and What You Need to Know Ketamine Therapy: How It Works and What You Need to Know

Ketamine Therapy: How It Works and What You Need to Know

/ 08:28 AM April 10, 2023

Are you or a loved one struggling with anxiety, PTSD, depression and bipolar disorders? If so, you may be interested in exploring the potential benefits of ketamine therapy.

This innovative treatment approach involves the use of low-dose ketamine, a dissociative anesthesia medication, to manage various mental health conditions.

Ketamine works by blocking the activity of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, which regulates mood, cognition and pain perception.


In this article, we’ll explore how this revolutionary therapy works and all you need to know before considering this treatment option.

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Conditions Treated with Ketamine Therapy

Fingers holding yellow pill for ketamine therapy

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Ketamine has a unique history as a psychiatric medication. Indigenous cultures recognize the potential for psychedelic experiences to produce rapid, profound, and sustained insight, mood, behavior, and consciousness changes.

In recent years, ketamine therapy has shown promising results in the treatment of various mental health conditions. These include depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For some patients with depression, traditional antidepressants may not be effective in treating their symptoms. However, ketamine has emerged as a promising alternative treatment option.

Many patients who have undergone ketamine treatment have reported significant improvements in their symptoms and emotional states. This therapy offers hope for those without relief from traditional antidepressants. It can provide a new path toward managing and improving their mental health.

You may also like: 11 Ways to Treat Depression Without Medication

Ketamine’s Success in Depression Treatment

Ketamine treatment has been particularly effective for individuals with treatment-resistant depression. Studies have shown that ketamine can produce rapid-acting antidepressant effects. Many patients reported experiencing improvements in their symptoms within hours to days after treatment.


Additionally, ketamine has been found to reduce suicidal thoughts in some patients, making it a potentially life-saving treatment option.

Ketamine for Chronic Pain

In addition to its use for mental health conditions, ketamine has also been effective in treating chronic pain. Ketamine acts as a pain reliever by blocking NMDA receptors, which play a role in the perception of pain.

It is technically an NMDA receptor antagonist. This makes it an attractive option for individuals who have not found relief from other pain medications.

Ketamine Therapy for Other Mental Disorders

Man holding different medications to treat mental illness

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Ketamine treatment has also been effective in treating anxiety disorders. These include social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and other types of mood disorders.

The calming and relaxing effects of ketamine can help patients manage symptoms of mood disorders and reduce anxiety.

Effectiveness and Safety of Ketamine Therapy

Like any medication, ketamine therapy has potential risks and side effects that must be considered. Let’s understand how effective and safe ketamine treatment is.

How Effective Is Ketamine?

Clinical studies have found that ketamine can produce rapid-acting antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Additionally, it has been effective in treating anxiety disorders, PTSD, and chronic pain.

Health experts may not yet fully understand the exact mechanism of this treatment. However, ketamine appears to work by modulating the activity of certain receptors in the brain.

Depression or a depressed mood can affect some nerve cells in the brain. These cells use a chemical called glutamate to communicate and respond to each other.

But in people with depression, these nerve cells are no longer affected by glutamate and stop responding. Ketamine therapy can improve their willingness to respond.

Risks of Ketamine

There are potential risks associated with ketamine. Some patients may experience dissociative or psychedelic effects during treatment, which can be unsettling for some.

Other potential side effects include nausea, vomiting, and changes in blood pressure and heart rate. In rare cases, ketamine can lead to bladder or kidney problems.

The long-term effects of ketamine therapy are not yet fully understood. Some studies have raised concerns about potential cognitive and memory problems with long-term use. However, more research is needed to fully understand its long-term effects.

Ketamine Therapy Process

Healthcare provider injecting yellow liquid into a patient's hand for ketamine therapy

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Therapy with ketamine is a unique treatment approach. The process usually involves a series of in-clinic infusions under the supervision of a trained healthcare professional at ketamine clinics. Here’s what you can expect from the treatment.

Initial Consultation and Evaluation

The initial consultation and evaluation process for typically involves a comprehensive medical check. This check usually includes a psychiatric history review, physical examination, and mental health assessment.

This process helps the healthcare provider determine whether ketamine therapy is a suitable treatment option for your condition.

Say ketamine treatment is a viable option. You will undergo a series of in-clinic ketamine infusion sessions. Each session typically lasts 45 minutes to several hours, depending on the dose and response.

What Happens During Ketamine Treatment

Healthcare professionals will closely monitor you during the infusion to ensure your safety and comfort. They may also give you sedative to help you relax during the procedure.

The ketamine infusion process itself involves administering the medication through an IV line. The dose and duration of the infusion will vary depending on your individual needs and response to mood-stabilizing treatment.

Some patients may require multiple infusions for several weeks or months to achieve the desired therapeutic effect.

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Post-Treatment Patient Care

After the initial ketamine infusion, follow-up care and maintenance are crucial to ensuring the effectiveness and safety of the treatment. This may involve periodic mental health assessments and monitoring for potential side effects or complications.

Additionally, your healthcare provider may recommend psychotherapy, talk therapy, support groups, and counseling. These interpersonal therapy sessions help patients integrate their ketamine experience and support positive long-term outcomes.

Before You Get Ketamine Therapy

It’s important to note that ketamine treatment is not a “one size fits all” treatment approach. The dosage, duration, and frequency of ketamine infusion will vary. These usually depend on the patient’s medical condition, individual needs, and response to treatment.

As with any medical treatment, don’t forget to discuss ketamine therapy with a healthcare professional. This way, you know the potential risks and benefits before considering this treatment option.


Ketamine therapy may offer hope and relief for those suffering from bipolar disorder and other mental health disorders. Recently, the FDA approved ketamine nasal sprays.

As such, the world can look forward to improvements for people with mood disorders and symptoms of depression.

While clinical studies have shown the effectiveness of ketamine therapy, the treatment still has potential risks and side effects. Make sure to work with a qualified healthcare professional to determine if this treatment is the right choice for you.

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