People who have never experienced depression often misunderstand it. Depression is sometimes misconstrued as "feeling a little blue." However, anyone who has experienced the condition knows how deeply harmful it can be. Talk therapy and antidepressant medication is often the first line of treatment for this mental illness. Unfortunately, these treatments aren't always enough. Some people with treatment-resistant depression experience no change or a worsening of their symptoms after trying these solutions. Luckily, there are other options to consider.
Ketamine is a type of anesthetic drug that also has some utility as an antidepressant. It can help people with severe depression, and your psychiatrist may propose it to you. Here are four things patients should know about ketamine IV infusion therapy:
1. Your infusion will be administered by a healthcare professional.
Unlike pills, which can be taken by yourself at home, your ketamine infusion will need to be administered by a doctor or nurse. If your psychiatrist thinks you will benefit from ketamine therapy, they will refer you to an infusion clinic where you can make an appointment. At the clinic, a specialist will review your medical history with you. They will calculate the appropriate dosage of ketamine based on your body and needs, clean the injection site, place an IV line, and start your infusion. You can expect the entire process to take about an hour.
2. You may experience some initial psychoactive side effects.
Ketamine can cause some side effects during the infusion process. You may feel dizzy or strange. However, you will be in a safe place with staff members supervising you. Most patients find that these side effects clear up soon after their treatment. Your healthcare professional may want to hold you for observation until your side effects lift if you experience a strong reaction.
3. You should rest after your treatment.
Ketamine infusion therapy often makes patients feel tired. You may feel groggy and worn out for the rest of the day. If possible, you should rest and avoid strenuous activities until your body has recovered. As your treatment continues, you may find that the tiredness affects you less, as your body grows used to the ketamine.
4. You should feel lasting relief.
Initially, you will have to receive ketamine infusions every few days to build it up in your system. After the initial treatment period, most people feel lasting relief for three to five weeks, according to WebMD. Additional treatments can be scheduled to maintain these effects indefinitely. The long-lasting relief provided by ketamine treatment is part of the reason it's so effective in the fight against depression.