FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic known as an "NMDA antagonist." It was developed more than 50 years ago for anesthesia during surgery and has been used for that purpose since that time in children and adults. Recently, ketamine has been found to be a valuable and highly effective treatment for depression, anxiety, and certain pain disorders. When correctly administered in precise, carefully-controlled dosages by a skilled and licensed medical provider, ketamine has the ability to rapidly reduce symptoms of pain, depression., anxiety, PTSD and OCD.
What conditions can Ketamine treat?
Ketamine may be used to reduce symptoms of depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder, postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and OCD, pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and addiction.
What conditions may disqualify me for Ketamine infusions?
Ketamine is an extremely safe medication when administered in a controlled setting and in low doses by a qualified provider. There are few contraindications, however, the following conditions may prevent your safe use of ketamine infusions: uncontrolled high blood pressure, unstable heart disease, untreated hyperthyroid disease, renal insufficiency, liver impairment, current manic episode, or active psychotic (hallucinations or delusions) symptoms associated with schizophrenia, history of ketamine dependence and current pregnancy. If you are suffering from acute suicidal thoughts please contact your local crisis center or mental health provider. In Duluth, contact Birch Tree Center, at 218.623.1800, available 24/7.
What are the possible side effects of Ketamine Infusions?
The dose of Ketamine used for infusions is very low and safe. Side effects are uncommon but may include a mild increase in blood pressure and heart rate, dizziness, temporary blurred vision, a sensation of "lightness," euphoria, and nausea. Our patients are monitored continuously to ensure safety and medications to treat any sides effects such as nausea are always available. One of the greatest benefits of an IV Ketamine infusion versus other routes of administration is our ability to rapidly decrease the infusion rate in order to achieve the fewest possible side undesired effects. There is no data to suggest that there are long term side effects when administered in low doses for short periods of time such as those administered for mental health issues.
How soon will I notice results from the Ketamine Infusion?
It is possible to notice effects within 24 hours of a Ketamine infusion. You will fill out self-administered assessment questionnaires prior to each treatment. This will help us determine your response.
For mental health conditions, by the end of the initial 6th infusion you will be able to determine the ethicacy. Candidates for future treatments should feel less pain, more hopeful, less sad, decreased thoughts of suicide, increased calmness, or more inclined to engage with people. Additional improvements are often seen further into the course of treatment. If you are having positive results with the initial series, it is recommended to have a maintenance/booster every 4-6 weeks. After that, maintenance (booster) infusions may be scheduled to maintain response. The total length of treatment is highly dependent on each individual’s unique circumstances and results.
What is it like to have a Ketamine infusion?
Be sure not to eat food within 6 hours or drink fluids within 2 hours. We recommend that you bring headphones and spa/meditation music. You are welcome to bring a companion to be with you during your appointment. We recommend that you bring headphones and music that is relaxing for you. You will be offered numbing medicine to ease the IV placement. Then you will be placed in a comfortable recliner and an IV catheter will be gently inserted and the infusion started. We will have you connected to a monitor to analyze your response to the infusion. You will be encouraged to listen to music, relax or even nap during the treatment. The infusion duration for most conditions will be 40 minutes. After the treatment, you will be required to stay for a recovery period, typically 15-30 minutes. You will need to have an adult present to drive you home from your appointment.
Do I need a referral to receive a Ketamine Infusion?
All patients are required to have a referral by a mental health provider or primary care provider. In addition, we will require records from your primary care provider with your most recent history and physical.
What should I bring for my first Ketamine Infusion appointment?
You may bring things like tablets, headphones, mp3 players, spa/meditation music with headphones. As a courtesy to other patients, we ask that you please refrain from telephone conversations during your appointments. Complimentary earplugs and eye covers are available for your use.
Do I have to stop taking my medications prior to my Ketamine Infusion?
You should not take sympathomimetic medications such as Adderall, Ritalin and
phentermine the day of your infusion. We recommend that you not take benzodiazepines the day of your infusion. You may obtain better results if you are weaned off of your benzodiazepines prior to ketamine treatment. Opioid pain medications and muscles relaxers should not be taken 6 hours prior to your infusion or within 3 hours after your infusion. Medical Cannabis should not be taken the day of your infusion. You should also not drink alcohol the day of your ketamine infusion.