What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy (KIT)?
Ketamine is an FDA-approved anesthesia drug that is used daily in hospitals and emergency rooms across the country.
Many studies have found that low doses of intravenous ketamine over 50 min. periods (known as ketamine-infusion therapy) produce a rapid and robust antidepressant effect and symptom relief in patients with depression, anxiety, PTSD, and neuropathic pain.
How Does Ketamine Work?
Ketamine has a different mechanism of action from antidepressant medications by modulating glutamate receptors. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter and abnormalities in it’s signaling have been implicated in mood and anxiety disorders. It is also believed that ketamine stimulates the growth of dendrites on neurons in the brain, which helps facilitate new learning and may add to the antidepressant effect.
Ketamine is highly effective and has shown to help about 70% of patients. There is no way to know who will respond, however our patients who do respond have seen dramatic improvement to their quality of life.
The protocols used at Lenox Hill Mind Care have been developed based on our review of current consensus on the o-label use of this medication for the treatment of mood disorders.
The Initial Course
An Initial Course of Ketamine Infusions is 6-8 infusions, twice a week, for a 3-4 week period. Patients may experience improvement as early as 2 hours after the first infusion.
Following the initial 6-8 infusions, maintenance or “booster” infusions are available for you every 4 to 12 weeks, depending on your response.
In our experience, and with patients we have treated, there is a wide range of maintenance efficacy, with anywhere from 2 weeks to 12 weeks of effectiveness.
What Should I Expect During My Ketamine Infusion Therapy?
You will receive the infusion in one of our comfortable reclining chairs in a calming environment. You will be awake during the 50 minute infusion but in a deep state of relaxation.
We will be monitoring your cardiac rhythm, pulse, blood pressure, and oxygen saturation.
You will be provided with noise canceling headphones, a relaxing music playlist curated for infusions, and a blindfold. It’s recommended that the patients close their eyes, listen to the soothing music, trust the medicine and allow themselves to ‘let go’.
A LHMC psychiatrist will check in with you after the infusion to provide clearance that you can safely head home After the infusion, most patients need additional time to “recover” with water and a snack (~10-30 min.)
Is Ketamine Safe?
Ketamine-infusion therapy is an incredibly safe procedure
The most common side effects that occur during an infusion are: increase in heart rate and blood pressure, floating sensation (“out of body”), dreams that may seem real, illusions, feelings of heaviness, physical numbness in extremities, metallic taste, strange smell, sense of euphoria, and blurry or double vision.
The most common side effects that occur after an infusion are: dizziness, headache, nausea, dry mouth, decreased energy, and poor coordination.
An Effective, Fast-Acting Therapy for Treatment-Resistant Conditions
Developed in 1963 by researchers from Wayne State University as an anesthetic and analgesic agent, ketamine is one of the most widely used drugs in modern medicine. It was FDA approved in 1970 and has been used safely in surgical settings, including pediatric surgery, as well as in managing acute and chronic pain conditions.
In 2000, scientists from Yale University published a landmark study which found that ketamine can produce rapid, though short-lived, improvements in mood for those with treatment-resistant depression. In as quickly as a few hours, some patients report feeling energized, more engaged with life, and better able to cope with everyday tasks and decisions. Although a course of ketamine typically produces effects that only last for a few months, its efficacy is impressive. Repeated infusions have shown to have a cumulative effect, prolonging mood improvements.
Ketamine therapy has been hailed in Science magazine as the “biggest breakthrough in depression research in a half century” and has provided much-needed, fast-acting relief to those with chronic, treatment-resistant mental health conditions, including unipolar and bipolar depression, anxiety, alcoholism, substance dependencies, PTSD, OCD, suicidal thoughts and tendencies, and several other psychiatric diagnoses.
Leading medical centers including the Mayo Clinic, Yale University, and Kaiser Permanente have launched ketamine clinics, and numerous private practices continue to spring up around the country.
Nearly 70% of patients respond positively to ketamine and more than 75 studies have been completed to demonstrate that it is both safe and effective. Researchers continue to study ketamine’s mechanisms and long-term effects, as well as refine formulation for the most effective treatments.