Ketamine Therapy – The Simple Truth About

Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine is a highly addictive drug that is used by medical practitioners and veterinarians as an anesthetic. Ketamine is also used illegally by people to get high. This article explores the simple truth about ketamine therapy for the treatment of depression.


Ketamine therapy and ketamine clinics have been increasing in popularity.  Ketamine therapy is being used to treat major depression and suicidal ideation (life-threatening thoughts and acts) that do not respond to current effective depression treatments.  Ketamine is being used for treatment resistant depression.  


Treatment resistant depression is when someone has been treated for depression, and the depressive symptoms have not improved.  If a patient has not responded effectively to conventional psychiatric treatment, a psychiatrist or primary care doctor may recommend ketamine therapy for treatment resistant depression. standard treatment is not enough to improve your symptoms.  


Ketamine treatment for depression is used for severe depressive disorders.  The symptoms of depression should be debilitating before ketamine therapy is suggested and should only be used for treatment resistant depression.  Since, it’s not entirely clear how ketamine works, it should only be given under the direct supervision of a psychiatrist specifically trained in this type of treatment.


How is ketamine given?

Ketamine is a medication that is administered through an intravenous line in low doses under the direct supervision of medical professionals.  Ketamine is used for rapid relief of treatment resistant depression.  The effects of Ketamine can last from days to weeks.  Researchers have found that ketamine has an antidepressant action at low doses.  However, as the dose increases it mimics the symptoms of psychosis (delusions, delirium, hallucinations, etc.) and at higher doses will lead to anesthesia.


Ketamine, a.k.a racemic ketamine, is given under direct medical supervision.  Ketamine is given at a low dose intravenously for rapid relief of depression.  Research studies have shown significant improvement in depression and anxiety symptoms immediately one hour after a single dose is given.  This effect is sustained with repeated doses over multiple weeks and a general decrease in illness severity after two weeks.


The FDA approved an intranasal spray form that is administered through the nose called esketamine.  Esketamine is given in a doctor’s office or clinic under supervision of a health care provider who monitors for serious side effects. Esketamine is for adults who have tried at least two other antidepressant medications without symptom relief. 


Sometimes ketamine and esketamine are given with oral antidepressants.  Mental health counseling should be included in the treatment plan for someone who is being treated for medication resistant depression. Further research is needed to find which type of medication is more effective and what side effects could occur during and after treatment. 


What are some known side effects of ketamine therapy?

Ketamine treatment comes with side effects.  Reported side effects include high blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, perceptual disturbances (time appearing to speed up or slow down; colors, textures, and noises that seem especially stimulating; blurry vision), and dissociation (sometimes called out-of-body experiences or a person may feel as if they are looking down on their body).  Side effect timeframes vary with each individual and further research is needed for long-term side effects.


What else should I know about ketamine therapy for depression?

Medical uses for ketamine are still new and further research is needed.  Ketamine should only be used under direct medical supervision. No exceptions so, do not self medicate and avoid the pop-up ketamine clinics that advertise long-term symptom relief and quick fixes.  Mental health counseling works and is a safe effective treatment for depression and those suffering with trauma.


The facts about ketamine include: 


Ketamine is addictive.  Street ketamine is dangerous and illegal.  So, don’t use it.  You could get a strong batch and overdose. 


The risk of death from ketamine alone is low because it has minimal impact on airway reflexes or blood circulation.  Nevertheless, you are at risk of harm while under the influence of ketamine.  Physical harm comes from high blood pressure and a fast heartbeat.  You could have convulsions, become unconscious, and have near death experiences related to hallucinations and delusions experienced.  You might do dangerous things while under the influence, which could lead to negative consequences.


The coming down from ketamine varies.  The day after using ketamine, you may experience memory loss, disorientation, anxiety, and muscle soreness. 


Long term effects of ketamine use may cause dependence, flashbacks, poor sense of smell (mainly from snorting), depression, mood and personality changes, tolerance, long-term physical problems, and work, social and personal problems. 


Withdrawal from ketamine is challenging.  This is because the body has become use to functioning with it.  Ketamine withdrawal is usually not deadly.  It is uncomfortable and you may feel like you are dying but that is usually not the case.  Withdrawal symptoms include cravings for ketamine, loss of appetite, tiredness, chills, sweating, restlessness, mood swings, irregular heartbeat, tremors, and nightmares. 


 Further research is needed.


What if I want to use ketamine with other drugs?

First, don’t.  When taking street ketamine, you don’t know what you are getting and even though the dealer may tell you it is ketamine it may not be, so be careful.  If you mix ketamine with alcohol or opiates or any other depressant drugs, the combined effects may lead to death because the heart and lungs may slow or stop.


If you mix ketamine with amphetamines, ecstasy, cocaine, or any other stimulant you place tremendous strain on your body, which leads to a fast heartbeat, which could lead to a heart attack.


Where does ketamine come from?

Ketamine is produced commercially in several countries, including the United States. Most of the ketamine illegally distributed in the United States is diverted or stolen from legitimate sources, particularly veterinary clinics, or smuggled into the United States from Mexico. 


Ketamine is manufactured commercially as a powder or liquid. Powdered ketamine is also formed from pharmaceutical ketamine by evaporating the liquid using hot plates, warming trays, or microwave ovens, a process that results in the formation of crystals, which are then ground into powder.


Common street names include:  Cat Tranquilizer, Cat Valium, Jet K, Kit Kat, Purple, Special K, Special La Coke, Super Acid, Super K, and Vitamin K.


What does ketamine look like?

Ketamine comes in a clear liquid and a white or off-white powder. Powdered ketamine is usually packaged in small glass vials, small plastic bags, and capsules as well as paper, glassine, or aluminum foil folds.


Powdered ketamine is cut into lines known as bumps and snorted, or it is smoked, typically in marijuana or tobacco cigarettes. Liquid ketamine is injected or mixed into drinks. Ketamine is found by itself or often in combination with MDMA, amphetamine, methamphetamine, or cocaine.


What is its effect of ketamine on the mind?

Ketamine produces hallucinations. It distorts perceptions of sight and sound and makes the user feel disconnected and not in control. A “Special K” trip is touted as better than that of LSD or PCP because its hallucinatory effects are relatively short in duration, lasting approximately 30 to 60 minutes as opposed to several hours.


Slang for experiences related to Ketamine or effects of ketamine include:


• “K-land” (refers to a mellow & colorful experience)

• “K-hole” (refers to the out-of-body, near death experience)

• “Baby food” (users sink in to blissful, infantile inertia)

• “God” (users are convinced that they have met their maker)


The onset of effects is rapid and often occurs within a few minutes of taking the drug, though taking it orally results in a slightly slower onset of effects.


What is the effect of ketamine on the body?

A couple of minutes after taking the drug, the user may experience an increase in heart rate and blood pressure that gradually decreases over the next 10 to 20 minutes.


Ketamine can make users unresponsive to stimuli. When in this state, users experience: Involuntary rapid eye movement, dilated pupils, salivation, tear secretions, and stiffening of the muscles This drug can also cause nausea.


What happens with a ketamine overdose?

An overdose can cause unconsciousness and dangerously slowed breathing that could lead to brain damage and death.


Which drugs cause similar effects to ketamine?

Other hallucinogenic drugs such as LSD, PCP, and mescaline can cause hallucinations. There are also several drugs such as GHB, Rohypnol, and other depressants that are misused for their amnesiac or sedative properties to facilitate sexual assault.


Is ketamine use illegal?

Since the 1970s, ketamine has been marketed in the United States as an injectable, short-acting anesthetic for use in humans and animals. In 1999, ketamine, including its salts, isomers, and salts of isomers, became a Schedule III non-narcotic substance under the Controlled Substances Act.


It currently has accepted medical uses for short term sedation and anesthesia. In addition, in 2019, FDA approved the S(+) enantiomer of ketamine (esketamine) nasal spray version for treatment-resistant depression that is only available at a certified doctor’s office or clinic. Ketamine has the potential for abuse, which may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.


Ketamine Facts

Since the FDA approved low dose ketamine (esketamine nasal spray), for treatment-resistant depression, many people have been using the treatment.  However, just because it is FDA cleared does not mean it is completely safe to use and further research is needed.  This type of treatment should only be done by a psychiatrist specially trained in this type of treatment. 


Many small-scale clinical studies have shown that a single, low-dose ketamine infusion can rapidly relieve depressive symptoms and thoughts of suicidality in patients with treatment resistant depression.  The studies have shown that the effects last for about one week. Research states that the antidepressant effects of ketamine can be extended with recurrent, repeated infusion treatments and produce extended therapeutic effects when compared to a single infusion. Use this treatment cautiously because the safety of repeated treatments with ketamine have not been thoroughly investigated.


Know the facts about the treatment prior to use because Ketamine is an addictive substance.  It remains uncertain if repeated infusions of ketamine will increase a patient’s susceptibility for ketamine abuse or relapse to other addictive drugs following antidepressant treatment. Further research is ongoing.


Take Away

Do your homework and explore conventional treatment and mental health counseling prior to using this type of treatment.  There are no quick fixes or magical pills that will instantly cure you. Trauma therapy for depression is an effective long-term treatment that will assist you in getting to the core of your depressive feelings. Contact Sobair Professional Mental Health Counseling and Life Coaching for counseling solutions.   


Call To Action

Stop using drugs and get help now.  There are many successful treatment programs that can lead to recovery.  If you have ketamine or any other substance use problem, get help.  Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline 1-800-662-4357




Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: