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How Long Does Ketamine Treatment Last?

How Long Does Ketamine Treatment Last?

In recent years, ketamine treatment has shown great potential for helping people whose lives have been negatively impacted by a variety of mental health concerns. In today’s post, we answer a few important questions about this service, including who can benefit from it and how long does ketamine treatment last?

What Is Ketamine Treatment?

Ketamine therapy employs low doses of a dissociative anesthetic to alleviate symptoms of various mental health conditions. Clinicians first began to explore the use of ketamine for mental health purposes in the 1960s, but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that extensive studies demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach.

Ketamine is usually provided in one of two ways:

  • As a nasal spray – Spravato, which is the nasal spray version that contains a ketamine variant called esketamine, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2019 to help people who have treatment-resistant depression.
  • Via intravenous (IV) injection – The FDA approved IV ketamine for use as a surgical anesthetic in the early 1970s. Doctors are permitted to provide IV ketamine – or ketamine infusion therapy – to treat mental illnesses, but this is considered “off-label” use of the medication.

In both cases, ketamine treatment occurs in a doctor’s office or another authorized medical environment.

How Long Does Ketamine Treatment Last?

The question, how long does ketamine treatment last, can be answered in two ways: the duration of a typical session, and the number of sessions that a person will usually take part in.

How long does ketamine treatment last during a single session? Usually around two hours. This includes:

  • The administration of the medication
  • Allowing time for the patient to experience its effects
  • An observation period to make sure the patient hasn’t experienced any problematic side effects

How long does ketamine treatment last in terms of a full course of sessions? The initial phase usually involves around six sessions, often provided on a weekly basis. Following this initial phase, patients may take part in maintenance sessions that are spaced a three- to five-week intervals.

Who Can Benefit from Ketamine Treatment?

As mentioned earlier in this post, ketamine treatment was approved by the FDA to address what clinicians refer to as treatment-resistant depression (TRD). 

There are no formally established criteria for TRD, but most experts describe it as major depressive disorder with symptoms that have not responded to at least two different medications, in combination with therapy.

In addition to those with treatment-resistant depression, people who have the following concerns may also benefit:

In an Aug. 22, article on the Harvard Health Publishing website, Peter Grinspoon, MD, reported that people who meet the following criteria should not participate in ketamine treatment:

  • People who are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Individuals who have a history of schizophrenia or psychotic symptoms
  • Older adults who have been experiencing symptoms related to dementia
  • Children and teenagers

Prior to taking part in ketamine treatment or any other mental health service, your team should fully assess your suitability for the intervention and discuss both the benefits and potential drawbacks with you.

Does Ketamine Treatment Have Side Effects?

Virtually every type of medication can cause unpleasant side effects. Among those who have received ketamine for mental health concerns, the following are among the most commonly reported negative effects:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dissociation
  • Lightheadedness
  • Nausea
  • Impaired coordination
  • Discomfort at injection site
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Headache

If you experience these or any other side effects after receiving ketamine via either IV infusion or nasal spray, you should discuss them with the professional who is overseeing your care. In most cases, the side effects of ketamine are relatively mild and temporary, but it is important to note any negative reactions to preclude more serious harm.

Is Ketamine Treatment Effective?

Several studies have documented the effectiveness of ketamine for depression and other mental illnesses. For example, after analyzing 83 published reports on ketamine treatment, the authors of a comprehensive systematic review that was published in the journal BJPsych Open reported the following:

Systematic reviews and meta-analyses provide support for robust, rapid and transient antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects of ketamine. Evidence for other indications is less robust, but suggests similarly positive and short-lived effects. 

This doesn’t mean that ketamine will work for everyone. What it does suggest, though, is that this service holds the potential to improve quality of life for people who have not benefitted from other mental health interventions.

Find Ketamine Treatment in Atlanta, GA

At Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry, ketamine treatment is one of many services that we offer to adults who have been living with the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and other mental health disorders. 

Each person who receives care at our outpatient mental health treatment center in Atlanta, Georgia, completes a thorough assessment to ensure that we have identified and are prepared to address the full scope of their needs. After reviewing the information that we collect during this assessment, our team develops a customized plan to help the individual make sustained progress toward a healthier future.

Our commitment to personalized service and integrative care makes Atlanta Integrative Psychiatry a place of true hope and lasting healing for people whose lives have been disrupted by a wide range of complex mental health concerns. To learn more about us or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Appointment page or call us today.

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