What Happens If Ketamine Treatment Doesn’t Work?

What Happens If Ketamine Treatment Doesn’t Work?

Ketamine treatment is a new, alternative way of treating patients looking for alternative relief options. But what happens if the psychedelic therapy doesn’t work?

Discovered and used as an anesthetic, ketamine is also considered a psychedelic due to its dissociative properties. The psychedelic craze is sweeping the world by storm, with each type of treatment receiving some sort of recognition. For instance, the nasal form of ketamine was approved by the FDA in for treatment-resistant depression in 2019. Following that, there’s been added interest in its use for other issues. This gives hope to many people who struggle with this mental health disease and stuck with conventional forms of treatment.

Still, like most things, different people react to ketamine treatments differently. Some of these differences have explanations. Others do not. And the possibility of something simply not working will always exist.

With that said, here are some of the most common reasons why ketamine treatment fails to work.

Taking Other Medications

We now know that there are some medications that can reduce the effectiveness of therapeutic ketamine treatments. Those medications are benzodiazepines and lamotrigine. If you’re planning on trying out ketamine therapy, consult your doctor and talk about the best possible option for your case to reap the most benefit. You might be able to stay off those medications completely, reduce the dose, or slowly taper off while you’re receiving ketamine treatments.

The Number of Ketamine Treatments

Although the exact number of treatments a person needs isn’t the same for everyone, there’s a general consensus on not going under five or six. Some people may feel improvement after two or three, or even immediately after the first one, but that does not mean others will experience the same. Therefore, sometimes it pays out to be patient, stick it out, and trust the process.

The Appropriate Dose

Similarly with the appropriate number of treatments, the right dose will also vary from person to person. The goal is to aim for a dose that is not too low, but not too high. This is the Goldilocks principle of ketamine treatment. For each person, there should be an optimal dose which isn’t always easy to figure out from the get-go, and some trial and error may occur.

Inadequate Preparation For Ketamine Treatment

In most cases, those entering a ketamine clinic may be unsure about what to expect from it. Thinking they’ll magically feel better after one infusion isn’t a realistic scenario which may lead them to believe the ketamine treatment isn’t working.

Known to create a profound, non-ordinary state of consciousness, it’s important to prep prior to ketamine therapy. The choices and actions someone takes before the treatment can potentially influence the entire experience. So it’s important to do adequate research prior to any type of psychedelic therapy.

Set, Setting, and Environment

The way a clinic is set when the ketamine treatment is in session is extremely important. Setting an intention before the treatment even starts, having support while it lasts, and getting enough educational material for when it ends all plays a huge role in the outcome of the treatment itself.

The experience all depends on the surrounding. If music is playing, the room has optimal temperature and there’s a feeling of safety and trust, the patient will be at ease.

The In-Between

What happens after treatment plays a huge role in its efficacy. The whole ketamine journey should be treated as a whole, and not every session for itself. Unlike physical therapy, your mental health has influences from multiple things as therapy is ongoing.

You’ll increase the treatment’s efficacy if you’re treating it as a holistic experience, from start to finish, rather than thinking of each session as an individualized happening. Between sessions, it’s important to take actions that further support healing. Some suggestions are below.

  • Talking with a therapist
  • Creating a feel-good self-care routine
  • Cleansing out toxic relationships
  • Limiting time on social media
  • Prioritizing sleep
  • Getting a good amount of daily exercise
  • Focusing on eating a healthy diet

Unknown Reasons

And then there’s simply the reason of no reason at all. Although it would be amazing if ketamine treatment was effective for every single patient with a 100 percent response rate, that is simply not the case. As more research becomes available, this may not be an issue. For now, however, those who don’t experience relief for any of the reasons above fall under this category. Unfortunately, that means scratching ketamine treatment off of their list of possible options.

What If You’re In The ‘Unknown Reason’ Category After Ketamine Treatment?

Remember, ketamine treatment isn’t the only alternative, non-invasive option. One might also consider some of the below as well.

With all the research and innovation around this topic, there are plenty of special, emerging treatments you can try. The rate of discovery is growing each day. With it, so too are the possibilities of finding the perfect treatment for you.

With treatment-resistant depression and other mental health issues, it’s important to remember that continually working closely with doctors and specialists to figure out which treatments will be the most beneficial and effective for you can be a lifelong process. Stay patient and have hope. This is a “new and highly promising treatment”, but it may not always pan out for your needs.

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Karla Ilicic

View all posts by Karla Ilicic

Karla is a freelance writer, yoga teacher and nutritionist who's been writing about nutrition, fitness, yoga, mindfulness, and overall health and wellness topics for over seven years. She's written for numerous publications such as Healthline, Livesavvy, Psychology.com, Well + Good, and many others, sharing her love of storytelling and educating. She loves talking about superfoods and another amazing plant powers that people can benefit from if they learn how to use it properly. Her passion lies in helping others not only eat healthier meals but implement good eating habits, find a great relationship with food & achieve a balanced lifestyle. She believes that the only diet and lifestyle that's worth creating is the one you can stick to, so she aims to find what that means for each and every individual. Teaching WHY we eat, and not only WHAT we eat, is the premise of her approach.

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