The uses of ketamine are widespread, from a surgical anesthetic used on the battlefields of the Vietnam war to a veterinary tranquilizer used in animals large and small. But what about its current use in human patients? Aside from being on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medications for its surgical usage in developing nations, what is ketamine prescribed for exactly?
What is Ketamine Treatment?
Ketamine was initially developed for use as a surgical anesthetic, though it’s gaining traction as an FDA-approved off-label treatment option for various mental health conditions and chronic pain disorders, such as major depressive disorder, migraine headaches, and fibromyalgia, among others.
Its popularity is growing among psychiatric doctors due to its ability to treat mood disorders more quickly and effectively than traditional medications. Its use is also increasing among pain management clinics since ketamine is a much safer treatment option in the long term than opioid medications.
Specifics of the treatment methodology will vary depending on the scope and severity of the patient’s symptoms, but for the most part, patients will receive an initial series of six infusions spread out over the course of a few weeks. After completing the initial series, the doctor may continue treatment with maintenance infusion sessions conducted at regular intervals.
Five Therapeutic Uses for Ketamine Infusions
Ketamine has proven to be an effective medication for treatment-resistant depression, particularly in the speed at which patients feel relief from the symptoms of depression. With typical SSRI medications, it can take weeks before the drugs make a meaningful impact, but ketamine infusions allow patients to experience relief within the first 24 hours after their inaugural infusion, reducing the chance that individuals suffering with depression die from suicide.
As a dissociative anesthetic, ketamine can put its users into a mild, trance-like state that makes them feel detached from their physical body in a way that most patients describe as incredibly relaxing. The long-term effects of ketamine infusions on anxiety can last much longer than its short-term dissociative properties—with patients experiencing weeks-long relief before needing a booster infusion.
In addition to producing a sense of relaxation, ketamine’s dissociative properties also allow patients to disconnect from their physical self, which prescribers believe enables them to become more attuned to their emotions and memories revolving around the trauma they experienced and begin to understand the root cause of their PTSD symptoms.
Ketamine treatment targets NMDA receptors in the brain and increases the amount of glutamate in the spaces between neurons. This neurotransmitter acts as a sort of neural fertilizer that aids in the communication between neurons along new neural pathways, which can help patients begin to have more control over their obsessive compulsions.
Chronic Pain & Fibromyalgia
As an anesthetic, therapeutic ketamine infusions are able to block pain sensors within the nervous system, which allows patients to experience significant pain relief. Treatments for pain may not work as quickly as those for mental health conditions, but this should not discourage patients from continuing with the medication. Many patients begin to feel relief from their symptoms following their second infusion dose and see continued progress with regular infusion appointments.
Are Ketamine Infusions an Effective Treatment for Everyone?
As with any other medication, you should seek medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment options from a licensed medical professional, but ketamine is generally a safe, effective treatment method for the wide variety of conditions and disorders outlined above. However, this doesn’t mean that there aren’t risks associated with the drug, as there are with any prescription medication.
Potential side effects include:
- Changes in perceptions of color or sound
- Dissociation from body or identity
- Dilated pupils and changes in eyesight
- Slurred speech
- Slowed heartbeat
- Increased pressure in the eyes and brain
Since ketamine can cause an increase in blood pressure and pressure in the brain, people with the following conditions are unable to safely receive ketamine treatment for medical purposes:
- Brain swelling
- Brain lesion or tumor
Additionally, anyone receiving treatment with this drug should have their blood pressure checked regularly to ensure high blood pressure does not become an issue.
Mindscape Ketamine & Infusion Therapy is Here for You
At Mindscape Ketamine & Infusion Therapy, our mission is to provide customized ketamine therapy to our patients for treatment of various chronic pain and mood disorders while being mindful of their emotional, mental, physical, and financial needs. Through this innovative treatment method, we hope to see patients reap the benefits from ketamine infusions and recognize this medication as a tool to help them lead happier and healthier lives.
If you are currently suffering from treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, another mood disorder, or chronic pain condition, our professional staff is ready to help you take control of your mental and physical health. For more information about ketamine and answers to questions like What is ketamine prescribed for?, visit us online or contact us today.
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Text “HELLO” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741
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