Ketamine: The Effects On Your Body And Mind Following An Infusion
New advances in medicine have led to psychedelic therapy growing in popularity. One of those psychedelics, ketamine — which first began trials in 1964 — is becoming an increasingly popular, with many wondering how ketamine effects the mind and body.
The number of ketamine clinics popping up attests to its popularity in the healthcare sector. And, as with many (if not all) other medications, there are ketamine effects to be aware of. Here, we explain the potential side effects of a ketamine infusion.
What Is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a drug that some physicians and veterinarians use to induce short-term dissociative anesthesia. Doctors usually administer it as an infusion directly into the bloodstream (IV).
The FDA approves many medications or drugs, meaning medical professionals can administer them for specific conditions. However, some of these drugs are off-label.
When a drug is off-label, it means a doctor uses it to treat a condition that it is not approved to treat.
Ketamine is one such drug: it is FDA-approved as an anesthetic, but many physicians administer it off-label. Rightly so, as several clinical trials and studies suggest that it could also help treat other conditions.
Researchers have several studies using ketamine for depression as a treatment option.
A 2019 study assesses the effect of a subanesthetic dose (i.e., a dose that would not cause anesthesia) of ketamine on subjects with severe depression. Results of the study show that symptoms of depression and anxiety improved significantly (almost immediately) after administering the first dose.
The drug has become a beacon of hope for many, as it is a potential option for treatment-resistant depression.
Cancer Pain And Chronic Pain
Results of a review from 2021 suggest that ketamine shows promise for treating cancer-related pain. It found that ketamine effectively improved pain management, and it may also reduce a patient’s need for morphine.
The use of ketamine for pain also reduces the need for opioids and, in turn, limits the adverse effects of opioids.
Potential Ketamine Effects Following An Infusion
While ketamine infusions are terrific because they work quickly, all drugs, including ketamine, have potential side effects. This is why patients should always take ketamine in a clinic setting.
But, even in a controlled environment, ketamine effects a handful of patients following an infusion. Common side effects include the following.
- Nausea and vomiting
- Raised blood pressure
However, side effects are limited when receiving a sub-anesthetic dose of ketamine.
A 2020 study looked at the adverse ways ketamine effects a person after a single dose for treatment-resistant depressions. The study results show that side effects — such as feeling strange or loopy — peaked at one hour and ultimately resolved after about two hours.
Researchers also note that serious adverse events were not present after subjects received a ketamine dose.
Can You Manage The Way Ketamine Effects You?
Ketamine is relatively safe to use in a clinical setting, as medical professionals can monitor patients.
Physicians can manage adverse ketamine effects if they become overwhelming in the following ways.
- Monitoring the patient’s breathing and circulation
- Position them on their side or with their head facing downward when vomiting to prevent suffocation
- Monitor the patient’s vitals, and, if complications occur, they should be admitted for further observation
Generally, symptoms will resolve without intervention, and supportive care is not necessary.
While ketamine infusions are not without risk, we must weigh up its side effects against the risks associated with severe depression. The benefits of ketamine infusions far outweigh its risks, in contrast to the risks of treatment-resistant depression (which could ultimately lead to suicide).
The Addictive Potential Of Ketamine
The question of addiction hovers over any new drug, and, unfortunately, ketamine has addictive potential.
Unfortunately, ketamine is also common as a recreational drug. This is due to the “high” feeling a person may experience. Although the recreational use of ketamine is on a small scale, it is not encouraged. It can lead to dire health consequences; such as bladder problems and liver injury.
An interesting fact, which may appear somewhat contradictory, is that ketamine may treat various addictions.
A review from 2018 delves into articles dealing with ketamine’s ability to treat addiction. Although ketamine’s efficacy for treating addiction needs further study, the results of the review are promising. The researchers found that ketamine prolonged abstinence from alcohol and heroin in alcoholics and heroin addicts.
Remember to proceed with caution before deciding to take ketamine. This is especially important for patients with a history of substance abuse. Medical professionals should only administer ketamine therapy after careful evaluation.
Can You Overdose On Ketamine?
Ketamine overdoses are not common, so limited data is available. Rare cases of ketamine overdoses are usually in conjunction with other drugs.
Physicians treat such patients with activated charcoal or address severe adverse effects with necessary medication.
Other Things To Know About How Ketamine Effects The Mind And Body
Before considering ketamine treatment, you need to consider the side effects associated with the drug. They are generally temporary but may be overwhelming to some individuals (especially if you’ve never had similar medications).
When going for an infusion, ensure you have enough time because you may have to stay longer for observation depending on how your body reacts.
Also remember that ketamine has addictive potential, so have an in-depth discussion with your medical practitioner. It’s important to explore and weigh options for you before trying a ketamine infusion.
Ketamine for anxiety and depression does not have a standard regulation. This means each clinic has its own specifications for IV infusions, and there is no normal dose of ketamine for depressive patients.
Although studies on ketamine for other conditions is still in its infancy, it is picking up slowly. But, so far results are promising, as early research suggests ketamine infusions have a high success rate.
Above all, the most important consideration is only to allow a licensed medical professional to administer the drug to you in a controlled setting.