Ketamine dates back to the 1950s when researchers started to study the analgesic effects of this compound. The drug was also used as a military anesthetic in the 1970s as well as a veterinary anesthetic. More recently, ketamine has been used to treat patients suffering from treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, and anxiety.
However, because ketamine has been abused as a street drug, many people who could potentially benefit from it in a clinical setting wonder if it’s safe.
There are crucial differences between the use of ketamine as a street drug, however, and a doctor’s administration of ketamine in a supervised therapeutic setting. Here’s what you need to know.
Is ketamine safe?
There are numerous studies supporting the efficacy of ketamine therapy for mental health conditions. For example, one study highlighted that ketamine had a “robust and immediate” effect on depression.
Under careful medical supervision, ketamine therapy can provide substantial and safe benefits to those with mental health conditions who aren’t responding to typical treatments. The biggest difference between safe and dangerous ketamine usage comes down to the supervision (or lack thereof) of an experienced medical provider. Here in our Newport Beach, California office, board-certified psychiatrist Dr. Hadi Estakhri offers ketamine infusion-based treatment as well as a nasal spray in a safe and controlled environment.
Dr. Estakhri understands the nuances of ketamine therapy, which is why he conducts thorough evaluations before delivering it. He thoroughly screens each patient for any potential conflicts such as drug interactions with other medications. Below is a list of reasons why ketamine therapy might not be right for you:
- You haven’t tried any other depression treatments yet
- You have a blood vessel issue
- You have a history of hypersensitivity to ketamine
- You struggle with alcoholism
- You are breastfeeding or pregnant
- You have high cerebrospinal fluid levels
If you don’t have any of the above-listed contraindications, Dr. E may consider you a good candidate if:
- You have a treatable case and condition (depression, anxiety, PTSD, etc.)
- You have a friend or family member who can drive you home after a treatment
- You’ve tried other therapy or psychiatric treatments but didn’t find the relief you need
Regardless of whether you receive the IV infusion of ketamine or the Spravato® nasal spray, rest assured that you’re under continuous supervision. During your treatment, you can expect to spend about two hours in our office.
The effects of ketamine are partly why the supervision of a doctor is crucial to its safety. It’s not uncommon to experience floating sensations, and staying in our office gives the medicine a chance to wear off while Dr. Estakhri continues to monitor you. In addition to monitoring for any adverse or hypersensitive reaction, Dr. Estakhri also takes this time to fine-tune your prescription.
Staying safe after your treatment
While it’s safe to receive ketamine under a medical provider’s supervision, you won’t be up to driving yourself home afterward, not unlike receiving anesthesia for a procedure. To ensure your safety, you need a trusted family member or friend to get you home.
Once you’re home, you may feel tired, but after a good night of sleep, you’ll wake up feeling refreshed. Follow any and all post-treatment instructions as thoroughly as possible.
Are you ready to try ketamine therapy?
We know that it can be disappointing and frustrating to try the tried-and-true methods for depression without any relief, but know that ketamine therapy is different. Ketamine therapy isn’t a first-line of defense for any psychiatric treatment, but for those with treatment-resistant conditions, ketamine can be a breath of fresh air and a renewed hope for the future.
If you’re not ready to try ketamine infusions or nasal sprays yet, that’s okay. Dr. E can diagnose and treat mental health conditions with more conservative methods, such as antidepressant medications, anxiety medications, and other psychiatric medications.
If you’re struggling with one (or more) mental health conditions and want to explore the possibility of ketamine infusions or nasal sprays, request an appointment today. You can also book an appointment by calling us at 949-258-7135.