Thinking About Ketamine Therapy? Ask Your Doctor These 5 Questions
Thinking of pursuing ketamine therapy? Make sure to get informed about the treatment beforehand. This includes being a good candidate, and being aware of the effects of ketamine, including possible side effects. One of the best ways to get relevant information about ketamine therapy is to ask your doctor essential questions. Your doctor may not necessarily be an expert on ketamine or its application in treating certain conditions. However, they will still know your medical history, which should be taken into account when considering ketamine therapy.
Here are five questions you should ask your doctor about this form of treatment.
“Do You Recommend Ketamine Therapy?”
The first question you should ask your doctor is “do you recommend ketamine therapy?” There are different reasons to ask this question.
Firstly, even if your doctor is well aware of the benefits of the treatment, they still might think it’s unnecessary. For example, many people consider ketamine infusions if other treatment methods fail to work, or when mental health is in a critical state.
Ketamine therapy is an option for those struggling with severe and treatment-resistant forms of major depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But if you have not tried conventional treatments, such as psychotherapy, your doctor may first recommend this. Also, if your doctor determines any mental health issues are mild or may not respond well to lifestyle changes, ketamine therapy may not be an option. Your doctor might not recommend ketamine infusions if there are other unexplored options to consider. These include alternative treatments that may be less risky, cheaper, and not as mind-altering.
“How Much Do You Know About Ketamine Therapy?”
Next, you should ask your doctor how much they know about ketamine therapy. If they say they are aware of the treatment but don’t know enough about it to make a recommendation, then you will probably want to get a second opinion. You might find that your doctor cannot provide you with all the information you want to know. In this case, be sure to speak with another doctor or a ketamine specialist. He or she can provide the most thorough and up-to-date information to determine your next move.
By discovering the extent of your doctor’s knowledge about ketamine, you will be in a better position to judge how much you should trust any recommendation they make. If they are unaware of ketamine’s physical, psychological, and therapeutic effects, then you should take their recommendation to prescribe or not prescribe ketamine therapy with a pinch of salt.
Conversely, if your doctor is aware of the details about ketamine infusions, then their recommendations will be more trustworthy.
Make sure that your doctor can adequately address the following aspects of ketamine:
- Acute physical and psychological effects
- Long-term effects
- Side effects and after effects
- Safety and toxicity
- Possible risks and complications
- Therapeutic benefits
“Would Any Of My Medications Affect Treatment?”
Your doctor should know the medications you are taking, so ask if any of these drugs could affect your treatment. Indeed, some medications can make ketamine therapy less effective, including the following.
- Benzodiazepines: High doses of benzodiazepines (e.g. Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, and Valium) can reduce the antidepressant effects of ketamine. If you’ve been prescribed benzodiazepine medication, your doctor may lower the dosage before you start your ketamine treatment.
- Lamotrigine: This is an anticonvulsant that is used to treat epilepsy and bipolar disorder.
- Memantine: This is an NMDA blocker, which means it can lessen the antidepressant effect of ketamine since ketamine acts on the NMDA receptors.
- Any other drug that affects NMDA receptors.
The positive news is that most psychiatric medications — including antidepressants — won’t interfere with your treatment.
“Should I Avoid Ketamine Therapy Based On Other Conditions I Have?”
You should also ask your doctor if you should avoid ketamine infusions due to any other medical conditions you have. Ketamine is contraindicated with a number of conditions, which means the treatment is inadvisable in light of such circumstances. Always ask a doctor about the safety of ketamine therapy, especially if any of the following conditions exist.
- Acute porphyrias
- Head trauma
- Significant elevation of blood pressure
- Raised intracranial pressure
- Severe cardiac disease
If you have any of these conditions alongside, say, major depression, your doctor may recommend an alternative to ketamine for the treatment of the depression.
Also discuss whether any of psychiatric symptoms will make ketamine therapy risky in any way. Some mental health conditions don’t mix well with psychedelics, including ketamine. One of these conditions is schizophrenia, which research illustrates can be worsened following ketamine administration. If your doctor cannot ascertain these risks, then it may be best to speak with a psychiatrist, as they will be able to spend more time exploring your psychiatric symptoms.
“Would You Be Able To Prescribe Ketamine Treatment?”
Your doctor can prescribe ketamine treatment, but first find out if they are willing to do so. There are certain scenarios in which they might not be comfortable prescribing ketamine infusions. For example, if you are someone who has struggled with substance abuse and addiction issues, they might have reservations about prescribing ketamine, even if it is administered in a controlled, clinical setting. Some clinical reports indicate that repeated infusions of low doses of ketamine may have addictive properties. Whether or not you are someone with a current or past addiction, your doctor may be uncomfortable prescribing repeated ketamine infusions due to the risk of addiction.
However, your doctor may also have personal views on ketamine therapy that may stop them from prescribing it. Ketamine’s reputation as a party drug — and its potential to induce powerful psychedelic effects — may make some doctors think that it is not suitable as a treatment. Indeed, ketamine can carry a stigma, as with other psychedelic drugs. It may take some time before everyone in the medical community aligns their perception of ketamine with the research on its therapeutic application.
By finding out whether your doctor will prescribe ketamine and if not, why not, you will know if it’s worth getting a second opinion. Also, if you know that ketamine is the right treatment option for you, then you want to ensure you have a doctor who is able to meet your prescribing needs.