Is Ketamine Safe? What You Need to Know About this New Treatment

FEATURED
April 15, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
9 MIN READ

Top points

  • When used under the right circumstances and supervision, ketamine therapy is a safe alternative to antidepressant medication.
  • Ketamine therapy typically utilizes three methods of administering the drug: IV therapy, nasal spray, or oral tablets.
  • Ketamine works directly with the brain to restore and rebuild neural connections that play a direct role in regulating mood, anxiety, and depression.

With the rise in popularity of ketamine use as a treatment for psychiatric disorders, including major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, this question is being asked everywhere.

Is the use of ketamine safe in the long term? In short, yes, ketamine therapy is a safe alternative to antidepressant medication like SSRIs, which impact your neurotransmitters. Because of its antidepressant effects, ketamine should definitely be considered when looking to improve one’s mental health.

Before you reach out to a specialist, there are a few things to be aware of that will help you search for the right treatment. First, you will want to know exactly what ketamine is, the mechanism of action, and how it works. Next, be sure to research the different types of treatments and have an idea of what you want to do before being assessed by a medical provider.

Knowing all of this will allow you to make an informed decision that is best for you and your mental health.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative psychedelic drug used by doctors and nurses on the war front and in surgical rooms as a powerful anesthetic. It can put its user in a dissociative state that allows them to be free of discomfort in large doses.

When under the effects of ketamine in larger doses, the user will appear to be awake and functioning normally, but have no response to sensory input. The ability to have this effect in a safe way is what makes ketamine such a popular anesthetic for use by medical professionals.

With ketamine’s low risk of adverse effects, it has begun sparking interest in other areas of medical treatment.

What Can Ketamine Help Treat?

Originally introduced to the medical world in the 1960s, the use of ketamine has since become a turning point in treating disorders like anxiety, depression, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and other mood-related disorders.

Ketamine treats these ailments at the source by working directly with the brain. Once ketamine has entered the bloodstream, it travels to the brain and effectively binds itself to the NMDA receptor, and releases a glutamate surge.

This effectively restores synaptic connections and creates new, healthier pathways of thought in the brain. Your mental health is a result of the compilation of mind, body, and lifestyle. Exploring these areas to discover the root of your issues can show you whether ketamine therapy is right for you or not.

Depression

Major depressive disorder, or depression, is a common ailment among many people all across the world. Its symptoms can include the inability to sleep, the inability to get out of bed, suicidal tendencies, lack of energy, dramatic change in appetite, feelings of depression, and difficulty concentrating or feeling motivated.

While the direct cause of depression depends greatly on each specific situation, a few prominent factors can trigger this disorder. Environment, genetics, personality, and biochemical factors can all play a part in bringing it on.

Doctors will typically prescribe antidepressants called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) to treat depression. However, there are many side effects and other issues with this form of medication, making it unusable for many people.

Anxiety

Anxiety disorders can be developed due to prolonged stress, chemical imbalances of the brain, traumatic experiences, and personality traits. Some of the more common forms of anxiety are specific phobias, panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and social anxiety disorder.

Symptoms can include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest discomfort
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure
  • Inability to sleep

Healthcare professionals will prescribe similar antidepressants for these disorders as they would for depression. Their side effects can include nausea, vomiting, and depression. Because of this, many have turned toward ketamine treatment for its lack of side effects in comparison to the standard FDA-approved drugs.

PTSD

The psychiatric disorder known as post-traumatic stress disorder can often occur in people who have undergone some sort of stressful, traumatic, or violent experience. The main effects are realistic and intense thoughts, visions, and memories of the traumatic experience long after its occurrence.

While not everyone who has gone through a traumatic experience develops this order, they need to be aware of its possibility and treatments that can help. Most professionals will treat this disorder with prolonged exposure therapy, medication, and stress inoculation therapy.

How Does Ketamine Treatment Work?

Ketamine therapy is a process that can be different for each person. People wishing to embark on their journey toward wellness with ketamine should speak with a professional before beginning.

Nue Life offers ketamine treatments that are tailored to reach the root causes of mental obstacles. A dedicated team of specialists will assess the person’s specific situation and use the information to recommend specific treatment and doses to best cater to their needs and tolerance without causing drowsiness or sedation.

This process is quick and based on previous data among similar people. They will also continuously assess how the treatments are going for you and adjust to the initial maintenance treatments.

Everyone reacts differently to ketamine treatments. Experiences can range from a calm relaxing feeling similar to deep meditation and muscle relaxation to a calming lucid dream or hallucinations.

The overall experience lasts for an average of two to four hours.

Is Ketamine Safe?

Ketamine alone is not inherently safe. When purchased off the market for recreational use, it can be incredibly dangerous. This type of use is not regulated or controlled.

In other words, it could lead to overdose or addiction. Taking too much ketamine in this way can lead to near-death simulating experiences, unwanted unconsciousness, and a consistent desire for more. However, when given in a controlled medical setting, it is safe.

Ketamine treatments that professional clinicians and treatment centers administer are much safer than that of after-market use. Professionals assess your needs based on your symptoms, weight, height, and other previous data.

Once the assessment is made, they can then decide the type of therapy to administer and the dosage needed, ensuring that you are getting the proper treatment in a controlled and safe environment.

How Is Ketamine Therapy Administered?

Ketamine therapy for the mind is typically administered in three ways:

  • IV therapy
  • Nasal spray
  • Oral tablets

Because everyone is different, the way they receive ketamine treatment could be different. People have specific needs based on mental conditions, past experiences, physical attributes, and many other miscellaneous reasons.

For these reasons, specialists have developed different forms of treatment to ensure that people can receive the version best suited for them.

IV Therapy

IV infusion therapy is accomplished by using a specific type of ketamine known as racemic ketamine. Delivering the treatment straight to the bloodstream allows the ketamine to take effect immediately and last about two to four hours.

Intravenous infusion allows the specialist to use two mirror image ketamine molecules known as “S” and “R”.

While this method is becoming widely known, it is the most expensive form of ketamine therapy. Those who require treatment but aren’t in great financial standing should look to other options that are just as effective when administered correctly.

Nasal Spray

Ketamine by the form of nasal spray has quickly become a great option for anyone looking into ketamine therapy for their mental health. The nasal spray known as Spravato (or esketamine) has recently become FDA-approved and is being offered by many ketamine therapy specialists.

Many specialists will use a similar assessment process to determine the dose, allowing it to be just as safe as infusion therapy.

Oral Tablets

Finally, the last form of ketamine treatment is by means of oral tablets. Also known as sublingual ketamine therapy, it can be just as effective as the other two treatments when appropriately administered.

As far as ketamine infusion therapy goes, one hundred percent of the ketamine that enters your body enters the bloodstream. This is not the case for oral tablets. Because of natural processes like metabolism, only about thirty percent of the ketamine that enters your body via an oral tablet makes it into the bloodstream.

As long as your specialist uses your specific assessment to account for this deficit, it should not be of any issue when it comes to receiving the full benefits of the treatment.

Which is the Safest Form of Ketamine?

If you are experiencing problems with mood disorders like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, you may want to start taking ketamine.

Starting with the safest option is always a good choice. In this case, the safest form of ketamine therapy is by way of oral tablets. Oral tablets are becoming widely used among people seeking better mental wellness.

Anyone hoping to receive ketamine treatment should speak with their doctor and a ketamine specialist to make sure it is the right choice for them. Ensure that your specialist gives you an assessment for dose and implements a treatment plan that includes maintenance treatments.

Once this is done, you will be on your way to stronger and happier mental health.

Conclusion

With its recent rise in popularity in supporting treatment for psychiatric disorders like anxiety, depression, and PTSD, ketamine therapy has been the talk of the medical community.

Which begs the question: “Is it safe?”

This is a natural question considering how new it is as a treatment option. The short answer is yes, it is a safe alternative to antidepressants for the treatment of many different mood disorders. There are several things you should know before taking it.

Ketamine is a dissociative drug that has been used in medical circles as an anesthetic since the 1960s to relieve pain and perform surgeries. Recently it was discovered that, when introduced to the bloodstream, it works directly with the brain to restore and rebuild neural connections that play a direct role in regulating mood, anxiety, and depression—ultimately building new pathways and allowing room for healthier thought patterns.

While there are three different popular forms of treatment, ketamine treatment appears to be the safest and most affordable option for people to use. Talk to a specialist today, get your assessment, and begin your journey toward stronger mental health.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment. What happens after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with our programs. We’re here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the real insights that lead to real relief.

Sources

What is ketamine? | Alcohol and Drug Foundation

Ketamine: 50 Years of Modulating the Mind | NCBI

What Is Depression? | American Psychiatric Association

Anxiety | U.S. National Library of Medicine

What Is Posttraumatic Stress Disorder? | American Psychiatric Association

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