Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ketamine?
- Ketamine is an FDA approved medication that was synthesized in 1962 and was approved for use as an anesthetic medication in 1970. It is a blocker of the cellular NMDA receptor, a neural receptor for glutamate that has proved to play a significant role in major depression, chronic pain syndromes, fibromyalgia and other ailments. It is also known to have potent anti-inflammatory properties and is known to stimulate neuronal growth, synaptogenesis, and neuroplasticity. It is a Schedule III drug and should only be used and administered by a skilled licensed anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist, or trained physician.
Is Ketamine safe?
- Although often known as a drug of abuse i.e. “Special K”, ketamine is very safe drug when administered for anesthesia or as a treatment for depression and chronic pain as we do at Chicago Ketamine Centers. The doses used for depression are much lower than those used for anesthesia and patients are monitored closely for the duration of the 45-minute infusion. Most patients feel very relaxed and free while they are receiving the infusion and these effects wear off within an hour or so afterwards. We carefully assess your medical history and medication list before the treatment and will consult your primary care physician or mental health professional as needed.
What are the side effects of Ketamine?
- The side effects of the low dose ketamine infusions in our protocols are minimal and will only last about an hour or two, but may include mild drowsiness, nausea, and increased blood pressure. We will routinely administer medication for prevention of nausea. Less common side effects include vivid dreams or agitation and these can be controlled by adjusting dosage. Many patients don’t mind the relaxed and free feeling they experience during the infusion and this feeling has been postulated to be beneficial.
- Are Ketamine infusions addictive?
Will Ketamine help my depression?
- Multiple randomized clinical studies over the past 15 years have shown that ketamine infusions can effectively treat major depression and treatment resistant depression (TRD) with a success rate as high as 80%. Most patients have immediate improvement after their first or second infusion. All patients will differ in response to the treatment and will also differ in their need for maintenance infusions. Patients with suicidal or harmful thoughts are particular high responders to ketamine infusions with over 80% having complete elimination of these thoughts after a single infusion.
How does Ketamine compare to conventional antidepressant medications?
- Ketamine will produce relief of depression in up to 80% of those patients that are treatment resistant. Oral antidepressant medications may only be effective in about 60% of patients and come with many undesirable side effects such as weight gain, decreased sexual drive, emotional and cognitive dulling, increased suicidal ideation, GI disturbances, and fatigue. There are only minimal side effects with ketamine and these are gone within a few hours of the infusion. Ketamine is also effective within minutes to hours whereas oral antidepressants can take up to a month or longer for effect. Potentially, with the guidance of your physician or mental health professional, you may be able to decrease or even eliminate your other medications as your treatment progresses, hence ridding you of those negative side effects.
- What other things does Ketamine treat?
How many infusions will I need?
- Our protocol for depression is to administer six ketamine infusions over a course of 2 weeks and then maintenance infusions as needed every month to every few months after. Each infusion will take less than one hour. Even though you should have no residual effects on discharge, we insist that you do not drive home. For chronic pain treatment, infusions are multiple and can each last up to 4 hours.
- Does insurance pay for the ketamine infusions?