Ketamine Treatment Sessions: What To Expect & What's To Come
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Originally used as an anesthetic, ketamine showed some initial success as an antidepressant in the mid-1970s. A promising drug to help symptoms like depression and anxiety could have been a game changer in the development of best-practice treatment approaches.
Unfortunately, at that time, these applications were never developed as the use of ketamine became less frequent in medical practices after the 1970s due to its perception as an abusive drug and the use of other anesthetics.
Just two decades later, researchers launched efforts to explore ketamine use as an antidepressant. In 2019, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved Spravato, also known as esketamine (a derivative of ketamine), in nasal spray and oral antidepressant form for treating depression in adults. It is no longer illegal to use Ketamine for mental health challenges. Consequently, the use of ketamine for depression and anxiety has expanded, and modalities of ketamine distribution have become more widely available.
Many people come to Stella with questions about our process with Stella's ketamine treatment. What's the procedure like? How do you qualify? How do you feel after? In this blog post, we'll walk you through Treatment by Stella so you have a general sense of what to expect before, during, and after ketamine infusions.
Stella's Ketamine Treatment
Treatment by Stella is curated care that is focused on a variety of mental health challenges like depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and traumatic brain injury (TBI). Stella will work with you to achieve the best treatment outcome possible by connecting you with a dedicated Advanced Practice Provider (APP) who is licensed and able to offer personalized care.
Stella's trauma-informed APP's are dedicated to your personal health outcomes. They will ask about your unique symptoms, learn about your individual needs, and develop a set of treatment goals as part of a tailored approach to helping you heal.
Stella also offers a self-assessment called the Stella Symptoms Quiz that can help get clear on the specific challenges you're currently experiencing. The results of this quiz can help you see your challenges in a new light and guide Stella's APPs toward a treatment plan that is individualized to you.
People may be nervous about ketamine treatment for a variety of reasons.
Some may be concerned about potential side effects or the unknown experience of a new type of treatment.
Others may be anxious about the underlying mental health condition that led to the recommendation of the therapy.
Or they may be nervous about being in a medical setting and receiving an IV infusion.
All of these worries are valid.
Since ketamine is a relatively new treatment option to the general public, many may be unfamiliar with the details of this treatment.
While there are many versions of ketamine treatments available, the safest way to provide ketamine in a dose-controlled manner is through the use of infusions. In the field of care, we say that delivering ketamine through infusions makes it "100% bioavailable." The medication can be dosed in a precise manner with infusions, and it takes effect at a predictable time. Another major advantage to using an infusion is that if a patient has a negative response, the medication can be stopped without delay. When Ketamine is administered through other means, such as through injections or lozenges, there is no way to "exit" the treatment session in the case of a negative response. Stella has established a reputation for "responsible innovation." In this context, "responsible innovation" means that we prioritize safety while optimizing our clients' outcomes. This is why we offer in-office ketamine infusions where patients are directly medically monitored throughout their treatments.
We'll work with you before treatment to answer any questions, discuss the process, and support you along the way. You're our first priority.
Here are four different ways to help ease your mind before ketamine treatment
Prepare for the physical and emotional experience.
Learning about what happens during ketamine treatment can help ease your mind by reducing uncertainty and anxiety.
Communicate with your healthcare provider.
Discussing any concerns or questions with your Stella Advanced Practice Provider before the treatment can help to reduce anxiety and ensure that you are comfortable with the procedure.
Have a support system in place.
If permitted, having a loved one or a therapist present during the treatment can provide emotional support and help ease your mind.
Try relaxation techniques.
Engaging in relaxation techniques such as meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises before the treatment can help to calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
Remember that it's normal to feel anxious about new or unfamiliar experiences and that healthcare providers are trained to help you feel comfortable and safe during the treatment.
What are you hoping to achieve? What would you like to let go of? Write down what you'd like to accomplish with your treatment and explore why these things are important to you. At the time of your ketamine infusion, providers within Stella will also assist you in setting a specific intention for your session.
When first entering treatment, you'll sit down with your ketamine provider to go over any questions and discuss what the process will be. If you'd like to, please take a moment to share the intentions you set for yourself.
Remember that this is your treatment experience, and you are in complete control. Ask for another blanket if you're cold. Let us know if you want us to change the volume of the music in your treatment space and take in the guidance provided by the staff on site.
Once you receive the IV and the ketamine starts to be slowly administered, you'll spend the next 45 minutes observed by trained personnel under the direction of a Stella medical provider. At the start of the infusion, you may not have noticeable effects, but as the infusion progresses, you may encounter a feeling of "lightness" or "floating," which for some feels like a "weight being lifted off their shoulders."
Others describe it as a dream-like state with a floating calm sensation, and some patients report visions of colors, shapes, and images. Each person's experience can be quite different and can vary from infusion to infusion. You will be monitored throughout the infusion, and we are prepared to treat any unpleasant side effects during the procedure.
Once the treatment nears the end, you'll become more aware once again of the space directly around you. You'll then spend some time acclimating yourself in partnership with the clinical team on site.
Generally, within 15 minutes of completing the infusion, you will feel grounded again in the present time and space, and your thinking will be clear and present-focused. In most cases, your awareness and thinking will generally be clear within minutes of finishing your session, but as a standard precaution, we need all patients to avoid driving home after their ketamine treatment.
Three common effects just after a ketamine iv infusion are dizziness, temporary disorientation, and fatigue. Feeling lightheaded or disoriented after the treatment is normal, and this typically resolves quickly. You may feel tired or fatigued after the treatment, and if you do, this should resolve if you take a nap. Others experience their energy immediately returning to what is considered their norm. We recommend that you build in time to rest after each session if you should feel tired after one of your sessions. Remember that your experience can vary from session to session, so you may feel tired after some, but not all.
Stella will be with you every step of the way. After treatment, you'll receive a check-in call from Stella's care team. During that call, we'll verify that your follow-up appointment with your APP is scheduled.
Following any biological mental health treatment offered by Stella, aftercare is important. Paying attention to your mind and body after treatment allows you to be aware of any changes or side effects that may occur. By monitoring yourself, you can better understand how your body is responding to the treatment and see whether any potential triggers or stressors are impacting your mental health.
Take note of the change in your symptoms and talk through them with your APP. Being aware of these factors and communicating them to an expert can help you both work together to mitigate triggers and maintain the positive effects of the treatment. Your APP will also learn from you and guide what practices or treatments may be best for your ongoing care.
Honor how your body responds at the moment and try to avoid pressuring yourself into feeling something that may not be authentic to you at that time. Your feelings are valid, and we want you to feel safe and supported throughout your treatment at Stella.
The Following Days
As with all treatments, the outcome of ketamine treatment varies. However, you may notice an improvement in symptoms within a few hours or days after the treatment. The duration and intensity of these improvements can vary.
A successful outcome can show up in several different ways. For example:
- Having a clear head
- Having a quieter mind
- Experiencing improved mood
- Feeling increased interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Noticing improved sleep
In the weeks following ketamine infusions, monitoring your symptoms and any changes in mood or behavior is essential. It is also important to communicate with your healthcare provider about any changes you may be experiencing, as they may need to adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
It's also important to note that Ketamine infusions are often used as a short-term treatment option, and additional sessions may be necessary to maintain the positive effects.
For example, some patients find relief after a single treatment, while others may not experience a positive shift in their symptoms until their 4th, 5th, or 6th treatment or until even further treatment sessions. All treatment recommendations Stella provides are built for unique individuals with the goal of providing the most impactful relief through smart applications of safe and effective treatment modalities.
How Long Does Ketamine Last?
The duration of the effects of ketamine treatments can vary depending on the individual and the emotional trauma and mental health challenge being treated.
In general, the positive effects of ketamine infusions can last anywhere from days to weeks. Some people may experience an improvement in symptoms that lasts for a more extended period.
Additional sessions of ketamine infusions may be necessary to maintain the positive effects. It's important to keep in mind that ketamine treatments should be used in conjunction with other evidence-based treatments. As part of Stella's Gold Standard Care Plan - ketamine-assisted psychotherapy - will include six ketamine infusions, six integration sessions, and a clinical follow-up from one of Stella's Advanced Practice Providers (APP).
The most effective treatments often involve a strategic fusion of biological, psychological, and peer support interventions. It's important to communicate with Stella to manage expectations, get questions answered, and ensure the best possible outcomes.
Real People, Real Stories
What was once called an alternative treatment for anxiety and depression, ketamine is a fast, effective treatment that has brought relief to thousands of individuals.
After two decades in the military, Will Marshall returned home to experience symptoms of PTSD, traumatic brain injury (TBI), and anxiety. He began to walk through life with less optimism, began suffering from nightmares, and found it hard to connect with others. But after doing research on ketamine, DSR SGB, and their related treatment targets, he collaboratively developed a care plan with Stella that helped him heal some of the major symptoms he was experiencing. His wife noticed the changes immediately. He now feels connected not only to others but to himself as well. He is much more open about his personal life, which has helped him achieve a full night of sleep.