IV Ketamine: A Breakthrough Treatment for Mood, Anxiety & Pain

Although ketamine has been used safely as an FDA-approved anesthetic since the 1960’s, the discovery of ketamine as a highly effective and rapidly acting treatment for mood, anxiety and pain disorders has been hailed as one of the most significant developments in psychiatry during the past few decades.

What does IV ketamine therapy treat?

Millions of people struggle with psychiatric disorders, including anxiety, depression, and PTSD, and with chronic pain. Many of these conditions may be treatment refractory, not responding to antidepressants or other therapies. IV ketamine therapy is a safe and effective treatment option, especially for those who have not experienced satisfactory symptom relief from medications and talk therapy, for:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Acute suicidality
  • PTSD
  • Chronic pain

As an antidepressant, ketamine has been designated a “breakthrough therapy” by the FDA. One of the most promising features of ketamine—and one that sets it apart from traditional antidepressants—is its extremely rapid onset. Symptoms tend to improve within just 4-72 hours after the first infusion compared to the 6–12 week onset period of conventional medications.

How does IV ketamine therapy work?

Ketamine works in several ways at the same time, many of which are still being studied. Research has shown that ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist that stimulates brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF). In patients treated with IV ketamine therapy, researchers have observed increased synaptic connections and the growth of neurons. It is hypothesized that this neuronal growth and increased neuronal interconnectivity improve mood and cognition.

Additionally, ketamine activates the limbic system (associated with memory, emotion, and behavior) and strengthens the interaction between the conscious and subconscious levels of the mind.

Ketamine is also an anti-inflammatory agent. Inflammation has been linked to mood disorders.

What are the benefits of IV ketamine therapy?

Ketamine’s response rate of 85% is more than double that of traditional antidepressants, especially in patients with treatment-refractory mood disorders and chronic pain, even if symptoms have persisted for decades without relief. Additionally, ketamine works rapidly, in hours to days, compared to antidepressants which take weeks to exert their full effects.

Ketamine can also have transformative effects on an individual’s worldview. Following treatment, patients report beneficial shifts in awareness or perspective.

Ketamine patients identify more strongly with positive self-images and values and often describe a newfound sense of meaning or purpose. Ketamine has also been found to increase compassion, reduce fear of death, and increase joy in living.

What is the IV ketamine treatment process like?

When used to treat mood, trauma and chronic pain disorders, ketamine is administered through an IV at a much lower dose than is necessary for anesthesia. Each ketamine infusion lasts about 40 minutes, after which patients should have someone available to accompany them home safely.

During an infusion, patients recline in a treatment chair surrounded by a calm, quiet and experientially safe environment. Ketamine is delivered at a slow and controlled dose and a registered nurse is present for the duration of the infusion. Blood pressure, heart rate and oxygen saturation are monitored.

During the infusion, patients experience deep relaxation and typically wear an eye mask in a dimly lit room with aromatherapy. IV ketamine therapy is well-tolerated. Some patients may experience nausea which is easily eradicated with anti-nausea medication.

Typically, patients receive a course of 6-12 ketamine infusions over 2-4 weeks. The frequency and number of sessions are individualized.

Although IV ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic, it is used off-label to treat mood, anxiety, trauma, and chronic pain disorders. At the present time, ketamine infusions for mood and chronic pain disorders are cash pay procedures.

At Neuro Wellness Spa, our ketamine protocol supports each patient’s unique needs and journey. Our thoughtfully designed treatment centers ensure a safe, comfortable and private experience while our therapeutic processing and integration enhance ketamine’s direct effects on the brain and psyche resulting in profound emotional insights and deep inner healing. Our team is always available to discuss and answer any questions you may have.

Neuro Wellness Spa’s Founder & Medical Director, Dr. Martha Koo, Explains IV Ketamine Therapy:

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