Frequently Asked Questions
Check out the answers to some of our most frequently asked questions below. If there’s something you need more details about that isn’t mentioned here, please get in touch for more information. We’ll get back to you as soon as possible.
What is ketamine and how does it work? Ketamine is an anesthetic that has unique properties allowing for the treatment of depression, PTSD, addiction and chronic pain. It is thought that ketamine works by increasing neuroplasticity, the ability of nerves to change and adapt. Ketamine is unique because it works by blocking the NMDA receptor, which is part of the glutamte signaling system in the brain. Most other antidepressants work by acting on the serotonin system.
What do I need to know before my ketamine infusion? A patient’s mindset and setting are the most important aspects of a good infusion. Having an open mind to the experience and avoiding any negative triggers prior to your appointment, will help you have the best outcome (i.e. avoiding confrontational conversations, watching or listening to the news, etc). With that said, it is completely normal to feel nervous before your first infusion. We highly recommend setting up appointments with your therapist during the first two weeks of treatment. The dissociation that occurs during your first couple Ketamine infusions can be intense and most patients find it helpful to process the experience. Let us know if you need a referral for a therapist.
Does insurance cover ketamine infusion therapy? Most insurance companies are still not covering the cost of the treatments, however, we recommend that patients contact their insurance company and discuss the possibility of coverage for Ketamine treatments. Our billing staff can work with you to provide the appropriate codes as needed. Individual insurance careers can vary in their coverage of Ketamine.
Are there side effects from ketamine infusion therapy? There are a few short term side effects that we manage during your visits. Most common are high blood pressure and nausea. There can also be a sensation of dissociation from the body and change in the perception of reality that can be distressing to some patients. We are able to support most patients through these experiences and feel they are often great sources of insight. There are some very rare long term side effects. There is a risk of developing bladder inflammation, however, this has only been reported in long-term, daily, high dose ketamine use. We have not seen evidence that this occurs at therapeutic doses. There have been reports of elevated liver enzymes, however, no substantial evidence of long term liver damage has been found.
Why don't you offer at-home ketamine like other companies? Although ketamine is a safe medication, there are potential risks that are best managed by a medical professional. It is crucial that the right dose is given, to ensure efficacy and safety. At Alleviation Ketamine, we monitor patients closely and make adjustments to tailor the dose to your specific needs. Furthermore, we strongly beleive that set, setting and support are vital to successful treatment.
How long does a ketamine infusion take? In general, infusions for behavioral and mental disorders run for 40 minutes. We recommend patients plan for 75 - 90 minutes in the office to allow time for IV placement and relaxing after the infusion is complete before leaving our office. Infusions for pain patients run for 3-4 hours, so we recommend planning for 5 hours.
What happens after the ketamine infusion? You will need to have a safe, designated driver to take you home after your ketamine infusion. We advise you to go directly home after your first infusion. After you have had a couple of treatments, you’ll have a better idea of how the medication makes you feel. It’s normal to feel a little intoxicated, tipsy or nauseous directly after your infusion. You may even feel tired and fatigued for the remainder of the day. Many people are able to return to work 1-2 hours after their infusion, but we advise you to take the remainder of the day off after your first visit to see how you feel. We provide support and help you integrate your experience into the all parts of your life as you go through the process. This integration is crucial to maximizing the effect of ketamine.
How long does it take for the ketamine infusion to work? How long will it last?
The effects will vary from person to person and by condition. In general, the anti-depressant effect, particularly on treating suicidal thoughts, is rapid with noticeable improvement in a matter of hours. Other conditions may take longer but most see an improvement in days to weeks. The effects are long lasting. After initial treatment, patients return as needed, typically once a month to once a year.