This is the first in a two-part series that explores the experience of receiving a ketamine infusion.

In this article, we provide answers to the questions we most often receive from patients, mental health providers, primary care providers, specialty physicians, and the greater community of care givers serving our patients. We’ll answer questions such as: Will a ketamine infusion be safe for me or my patient? How does the clinic collaborate with my other health care providers? What are some of the conditions treated with ketamine? Do I need a referral?

Ketamine is safe

Ketamine was FDA approved in the 1960s. It has been used as a dissociative anesthetic and analgesic for decades. Ketamine is listed on the World Health Organization’s list of essential medicines. Ketamine infusions have been successfully used to treat depression, PTSD, anxiety, OCD, substance abuse, and a variety of other disorders. It is important, however, that ketamine be administered by experienced providers, in a monitored, safe setting, and at appropriate doses. There have been some terrible adverse events that made the news over the past few months in which ketamine was administered by emergency responders in the field. These situations were uncontrolled and the doses administered were 10-15 times the dose used for treating depression. When used as an antidepressant, ketamine is given at a low dose – an amount that research has shown is effective for treatment and that minimizes potential for complications. Ketamine is safe for most people. It is important, however, to have a thorough evaluation by a medical provider prior to treatment and to let your treatment provider know if something changes in your medical history. Some people may need to have medications adjusted to improve medical conditions. For example, people with high blood pressure should be on appropriate medications and have good blood pressure control prior to receiving ketamine. Ketamine is generally not recommended for people while they are pregnant or breast feeding. Other people, like those with schizophrenia or other forms of psychosis, might not be good candidates for ketamine therapy.

Ketamine is effective

Ketamine has been used to successfully treat thousands of people with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mental health conditions. For depression and suicidal thoughts, the two mental health conditions most studied, 70-80% of patients experience significant improvement. Most people have symptom relief with the first infusion. Traditional antidepressants have a lower success rate and take weeks or months to have an effect. How well and how quickly ketamine works depends on many factors. Each patient’s body and mind are different – no two patients are exactly alike. There is variation in degree and type of depression, history of medication use, how well a person is prepared to work with their therapist as they start ketamine treatment, and a host of other factors. Even a person’s nutrition status can make a difference. Everyone will experience ketamine a little differently. Some patients feel an immediate shift in their attitude and mood, often describing the experience as a “lightness” or “lifting of heaviness” that starts a few minutes into the first infusion. Others feel the fog of depression lift gradually over the first three or four treatments. With such a high success rate, rapid results, and relatively low risk, ketamine is an attractive option for many people who have depression, PTSD, pain, and many other issues.

What to look for in a care team

If you are considering ketamine therapy, look for a clinic and staff who are experienced and able to work with your existing health care providers. Most clinics (including Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic) will want a referral from your primary care or mental health provider. Your ketamine treatment should be managed by a physician who evaluates your health history, current medical conditions, medications, and appropriateness of ketamine as a treatment for you specifically. They should take the time to consult with your primary care provider, specialty physicians such as cardiologist or pulmonologist, and / or your mental health providers as necessary to ensure that treatment is safe and right for you. The clinic personnel should monitor you carefully throughout your treatment and have proper emergency equipment and medications readily available. It is also important that the clinic space feel comfortable and emotionally safe and that progress of your treatment or concerns related to your ketamine therapy be relayed back to your referring provider.

At Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic, we work with your existing care team to optimize your health and well-being. We will ask for your permission to speak with your other health care providers so that we can make sure that the treatment we provide is safe and effective and designed uniquely for you. Our clinic is comfortable, safe, and professionally staffed. Dr. Stoner is an experienced anesthesiologist and fellowship-trained integrative medicine physician. Her approach to integrative medicine is to work with the patient to choose the science-based tools from a full range of medical traditions and alternative/complementary modalities that optimize their individual mental and physical health. She will work with you and your other health and wellness providers to truly integrate your care.

Additional information

  • More information specifically intended for providers and Satori Integrative Medicine Clinic referral forms are found here.
  • Resources that may be useful for anyone who wants to learn more about ketamine can be found here.
  • In this 40-minute video Steve Levine, MD discusses ketamine depression treatment.

 

In Glenwood Springs, CO, our integrative medicine clinic and ketamine treatment center offers ketamine infusions, integrative medicine, and acupuncture.  Dr. Stoner believes there are many paths to health. Her approach to integrative medicine is to work with the patient to choose the science-based tools from a full range of medical traditions and alternative/complementary modalities that optimize their individual mental and physical health. She will work with you and your other health and wellness providers to truly integrate your care.

We specialize in treatment for those suffering from major depression, the depressed phase of bipolar disorder (bipolar depression), postpartum depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), pain syndromes such as fibromyalgia and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS), also known as reflex sympathetic dystrophy (RSD), and addiction.

We utilize conventional and alternative modalities to help our patients be the best they can be, given what they have and where they’re starting. If you or someone close to you would benefit from our services, please contact us today to schedule an appointment and/or learn how we can help you awaken to a new life.