Ketamine Side Effects: What You Should Know

FEATURED
May 4, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life
8 MIN READ

Top points

  • When compared to traditional antidepressants, the side effects of ketamine treatment are fairly rare and mild.
  • Ketamine treatment is often a relaxing and joyful experience, with few to no side effects.
  • It is important to discuss any allergies to medications and what medications you are taking with your provider to avoid unwanted side effects.

Healthcare professionals everywhere have been searching for the best medications and treatments for mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. While there have been a few medications, like selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs), that have shown promising results, the side effects that come with these medications can often be unbearable.

These effects may lead people to either not try the treatment in the first place or stop the treatment because the benefits don’t outweigh the disadvantages. Even further, SSRIs only work for a fraction of those who use them.

In recent years, ketamine treatment has become one of the most promising forms of treatment for mental illnesses and mood disorders. One of the reasons for its popularity is that its side effects are fairly rare and remarkably mild.

Read on to learn more about ketamine treatment and its mild side effects.

What Is Ketamine?

Until recently, ketamine was used as a dissociative anesthetic for animals and people. The unique part about this anesthetic is that it does not slow down heart rate or breathing, making it one of the more comfortable anesthetics.

While it is an effective form of anesthesia, it has also been used more recently to treat mental illnesses like depression, anxiety, addiction, and PTSD.

Since ketamine is dissociative, it has also been used recreationally as a way for people to get high and experience hallucinogenic trips. This type of abuse can be hazardous.

However, in a medical setting, the right doses can be very effective in alleviating symptoms of depression and other mental illnesses.

What Is the History of Ketamine?

Ketamine use was first approved by the FDA as an anesthetic for animals in the mid-1900s. About a decade later, it got approval for anesthetic use on humans. After years of mainly being used to help soldiers on the battlefield, it became widely used as a club drug that would cause hallucinations, earning names like special k, vitamin k, and kit kat.

More recently, healthcare professionals have found that the effects of ketamine can help treat many mental illnesses and mood disorders. Out of this came clinics that specialize in ketamine treatment.

What Is Ketamine Treatment for Mental Health?

Ketamine treatment for mental health uses ketamine to alleviate symptoms of treatment-resistant depression and other mental diseases and mood disorders. This type of treatment typically comes in two different forms, IV infusion and sublingual tablets.

For IV ketamine infusions, you must go to a clinic for each visit, which means time spent traveling to and from your appointments.

At Nue Life, we offer ketamine treatment in the form of simple oral tablets that allow you to experience your entire treatment from the comfort of your own home. Your doses are sent directly to you for you to administer while having a trusted loved one, or sitter, present for the experience. This form of ketamine treatment is also more affordable than IV infusions, making it more accessible.

Who Can Benefit From Ketamine Treatment?

While ketamine treatment is primarily used to treat those with depression and anxiety, there are plenty of other people who can benefit from all that this treatment has to offer. Ketamine has also treated symptoms of PTSD, addiction, and various other mental illnesses thanks to its antidepressant effects.

There are many varying levels of anxiety and stress. If you are someone who deals with either of those feelings on a day-to-day basis, ketamine treatment may be able to help.

What Does Ketamine Feel Like?

Ketamine can provide a psychedelic experience that, when done under the direction of healthcare professionals, can be a relaxing and enjoyable experience. This can be influenced by your mindset and the treatment environment, as well as the connection you have with your clinician and your sitter. If you are taking sublingual tablets at home, you will receive detailed instructions from Nue Life to ensure your safety.

During your ketamine experience, you may want to make a calming, low-light environment with soothing music in your home. Doing this can help ensure that you experience a calm, relaxing experience with light, dream-like visuals. During your experience, you might feel completely normal, slightly tipsy, or like you are out of your body — also known as dissociation. However strong your reaction is, the overarching experience for most people is relaxation.

How Long Do the Effects of Ketamine Last?

When administering ketamine via sublingual tablets, it will usually take about five to ten minutes for the effects to begin taking place. Once the ketamine is in your system, you can expect it to be in full effect for about one hour.

Oftentimes, as the effects wear off, you may experience what is known as an afterglow. During this phase, you are beginning to feel normal but are still experiencing some of ketamine’s effects. It can take anywhere from one to three hours for ketamine to completely run its course.

Does Ketamine Have Side Effects?

Taking small sublingual doses of ketamine that has been prescribed to you by a healthcare professional can come with a few mild short-term side effects.

Studies have shown that the most prevalent side effects of this form of ketamine are mild short-term headaches, slight dizziness, nausea or vomiting, and minor restlessness.

How Common Are Ketamine Side Effects?

Experiencing a side effect of ketamine is fairly rare. In a 28-day open-label proof-of-concept trial, 14 patients were placed on ketamine treatments for depression and anxiety.

The study showed relief from the symptoms of anxiety starting on day three and continuing through day 28. It also showed relief from the symptoms of depression starting on day 14 and continuing through day 28. The study proved that mild side effects, like light headaches and slight dizziness, are rare.

How Long Do Side Effects Last?

These side effects are far from severe and typically do not last more than a couple of days, proving that sublingual ketamine is a sustainable option for outpatient treatment of illnesses like depression and anxiety.

Precautions

When it comes to clinical ketamine treatment, typical precautions include considering information regarding any allergies, medications, or apprehensions about possible side effects.

It’s important to give your provider a list of every one of your known allergies and current medications. Ketamine can negatively interact with various medications, and letting the provider know about all of your current medications could potentially save you from serious, negative effects down the road.

Similarly, if you have any questions or concerns about the side effects, you should discuss them with your provider so that you can both be on the same page as you begin your ketamine journey.

Is Ketamine Safe?

As long as you thoroughly discuss all of your allergies, current medications, and concerns about ketamine with your healthcare professional, ketamine treatment can be a completely safe option to get the relief you need from depression and anxiety.

In rare instances, urinary tract issues can arise as a side effect of ketamine treatment. Though, in most documented cases, this has been a result of illicit recreational use at much higher dosages and frequencies than therapeutic use. If you have existing bladder issues, discuss them with your provider before beginning ketamine treatment.

Just be sure to follow your clinician’s directions precisely as you start your journey towards mental wellness.

Who Should Avoid Ketamine?

Those on medications that may interact negatively with ketamine, children under the age of sixteen, and pregnant or nursing mothers should proceed with caution regarding ketamine.

If you are on a medication that will negatively interact with ketamine, talk with your doctor and figure out how necessary this drug is and if there are other alternatives. If there are no other alternatives and you need the medicine, you should avoid ketamine.

For children under sixteen, pregnant women, and nursing mothers, there is not yet enough information to determine how safe ketamine treatment is. It may be completely safe, but more research is needed to conclude how ketamine affects the people who fall into these categories.

Summary

Ketamine was originally used as a dissociative anesthetic on the battlefront. Throughout the years, scientists discovered that its psychedelic properties could be used for more than just alleviating pain.

While it still does not have an FDA label for this type of use, many people and doctors prefer ketamine treatment as an off-label solution for mental disorders like depression, anxiety, PTSD, addiction, and many more.

The side effects of sublingual ketamine are rare and mild, consisting mainly of mild short-term headaches, slight dizziness, and light restlessness that often passes after a day or so.

With consistently good test results, mild short-term side effects, and the availability of affordable at-home treatment, ketamine can be a promising option for many seeking to relieve symptoms of mental illness safely and efficiently.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment, which means that what happens after your ketamine experience is 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 every program. We’re here to help map the mind and body connections in your brain and help you discover the real insights that lead to real relief.

Sources:

Ketamine bladder syndrome: an important differential diagnosis when assessing a patient with persistent lower urinary tract symptoms

Ketamine-Induced Apoptosis in Normal Human Urothelial Cells

Ketamine | NIDA Archives

Daily Oral Ketamine for the Treatment of Depression and Anxiety in Patients Receiving Hospice Care: A 28-Day Open-Label Proof-of-Concept Trial | NCBI

How ketamine relieves symptoms of depression | National Institutes of Health (NIH)

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