A ketamine session can be a profoundly healing experience. Here is a guide for what to expect & how to plan so as to make it as meaningful as possible.
What to bring:
- Yourself, in a calm state of mind: Don’t rush or be late. Arrive early.
- Yourself, with a clean body: Please fast the morning of. No food or meals. Liquids are fine. Rx’es are fine. Avoid alcohol and recreational drugs for 2 days beforehand.
- Bring a friend or family member: Someone will need to drive you home afterwards.
- Wear comfortable clothes.
- Accessories: bring an eye shade, ear plugs, or headpones. Some people like to use these during their infusion.
- Music playlist: some people enjoy listening to music during their session. Prepare a relaxing playlist (e.g. on Spotify). An example would be Native American flute music.
What to expect:
- Please arrive at our infusion center 15 minutes prior to your start time.
- Our infusion center is in Suite 690 (whereas our main office is Suite 790, upstairs).
- You’ll be in the office for about 2 hours. The actual infusion itself is less than an hour. Beforehand, it takes a few minutes for us to get you prepped. Afterwards, most people like to take 20-30 minutes to relax before going home.
- Of the individuals who have a positive response to ketamine (which is the vast majority of the ones we make the recommendation), about 50% of individuals feel an immediate therapeutic relief instantly during the infusion. The other 50% experience more subtle and gradual relief over the course of subsequent infusions.
- The staff will have you complete the infusion paperwork
- You will be brought back to an infusion room. You may request a room with a recliner, or a bed (although availability cannot be guaranteed).
- Your clinician will place an IV into your arm. Our clinicians are very experienced, so typically this is fairly quick.
- The beauty of IV ketamine infusions is that the entire experience can be controlled and fine tuned. Throughout your infusion, you will have your clinician with you (or right outside your door, if you wish – but in direct eyesight). At any point whatsoever, if you become worried or uncomfortable – simply talk to your clinician. At a moment’s notice, they can pause, slow, or stop the infusion.
- Turn your phone on SILENT or OFF. It can be quite emotionally disturbing to be receiving loud phone calls or text messages during an infusion.
How it Works:
There are 2 mechanisms by which ketamine works.
- The biochemical effect that the medication has on your brain. The initial relief is usually somewhat time-limited, but over the course of several infusions – the effects compound and become longer lasting. Many people report profound anti-depressant relief, and many report anti-anxiety & anti-rumination effects, as well.
- The dose is very small. Ketamine has been used in medical procedures for literally decades, and is very safe. The doses used during ketamine infusions are a tiny fraction of those used in the medical world.
- The 2nd effect is the mental experience and “journey” during the infusion which may be very healing, in and of itself. About 50% of individuals report a temporary “lifting” of the blanket of depression or anxiety, instantly during the infusion.
- The ketamine experience will vary if you have elected to try KAP (Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy), which is when a psychiatrist or therapist is in the room with you during the infusion, actively performing psychotherapy.
- To know what to expect, feel free to read more about the experience, below.
The Session & Experience:
- Your clinician will inform you when the IV has been started. Occasionally, a short-acting medication may be used to help relax your mind or body.
- The first thing you will feel is a sense of relaxation, of mind and/or body.
- You may then begin to feel slightly light, or light-headed. This is described as a very pleasant sensation. Some people report a sense of feeling a slight warmth.
- Eventually you may feel even lighter, almost a slight separation between yourself and your body. Your hands and legs may feel far away. This is also described as a pleasant sensation.
- Some people progressively feel even more separation between their self and the different components of consciousness (e.g. their thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and perception). They describe this as an exceptionally pleasant experience.
- If someone previously struggled with depression or anxiety or rumination, then it is at this time that they feel much less of these things – and/or feel much more distant from these things. This is almost always described as an immense relief – like the blanket of depression has been temporarily lifted.
- This experience also serves as a very hopeful reminder that the state of depression or anxiety doesn’t define them, that it is indeed separate from them. And as such, that it can be a temporary thing.
- Occasionally, people continue to progressively experience an even greater physical sensation of lightness – sometimes to the point of feeling above the room. Again, this is described as very pleasant.
- It is possible that certain individuals can have such intense experiences that they actually experience visual distortions, such as seeing certain colors or textures or alterations in patterns (such as in the ceiling tile). If this happens, do not be afraid – on the contrary, much research suggests that this may result in a greater therapeutic effect later on.
- If possible, plan a quiet evening. Most people like to relax the evening after an infusion because they are in a very calm and contemplative state.
- Your brain will be forming new synapses and connections. Similarly, your mind may be trying to form new connections & insights. Try to choose healthy thoughts, rather than ruminate over negative ones from the past.
- Drink plenty of fluids the night after the infusion.