Frequently Asked Questions
What does a Ketamine treatment feel like?
We aim to make you feel as comfortable as possible at Voyage Healing. You will be given eyeshades and headphones and supplied with a curated music playlist for ketamine. Most patients enjoy this experience, but ketamine may feel different to different people. Many describe a floating sensation and a sense of dissociating from their body. Many feel peace and calm. Some may feel euphoria. Others find the experience scary (feeling scared is significantly reduced when one is adequately prepared and in the company of a therapist). Some experience a deep sense of spirituality. One may experience psychedelic phenomena at slightly higher doses, including hallucinations and ego dissolution.
Will I experience side effects during the treatment?
During the ketamine experience, some people feel nausea or dizziness. Using eyeshades can significantly help reduce these symptoms. We can also provide medications as needed to treat nausea. Some people may feel anxious or scared. Preparation and having a therapist present can help one feel safe and soothe anxiety. Occasionally, patients may have a headache. We provide medications that help with mild headaches. During the ketamine treatment, one’s blood pressure and pulse may increase slightly, similar to exercise. For this reason, we monitor your blood pressure and pulse ox.
How does ketamine produce its antidepressant effects?
Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist. There are many complicated changes in brain chemistry when one takes ketamine, and it is postulated that its antidepressant effects may arise from neurons forming new connections. Many believe that during and soon after the ketamine experience, the brain is in a “neuroplastic” state and capable of new learning.
Can I drive home after?
No, it is not safe to drive on the day of ketamine treatment. We require a friend or family member to drive you home for safety reasons.
Can I go back to work after?
It is strongly recommended not to go back to work or make important decisions the same day as your ketamine treatment.
Is it a one-time treatment?
Unfortunately, ketamine is usually not a one-time treatment. If you are suffering from depression, it is recommended that you have 4 to 6 initial therapies for 2-4 weeks. After this initial treatment series, most patients require ongoing booster sessions every month. Sometimes boosters are needed more frequently, and occasionally less frequently. It is important to remember going into ketamine treatment, that although 70% of patients experience some relief from depression, the effects usually wear off. Also, ketamine is rarely a stand-alone treatment and is best utilized as one tool in an overall treatment plan.
How many treatments will I need?
The research for depression shows that multiple treatments, often six infusions over 2-3 weeks, work better than a single infusion. Most patients also need booster sessions, usually monthly. Some patients may require fewer than six infusions to achieve symptom relief. Unfortunately, it is impossible to predict how many treatments you will need.
Can I do a ketamine treatment without the preparation and integration?
Our mission and expertise lie in combining therapy with ketamine. We support your decision not to combine therapy with ketamine and are happy to give referrals to other ketamine centers that provide this. For some patients, this is preferable, and you must receive the kind of treatment that best suits your needs.
Do I need an outside treatment provider/team?
We strongly recommend, and in some cases, require that you have an outside treatment team. We will be in contact with them to coordinate your care. Voyage Healing is too small, at this point, to offer ongoing therapy and medication management for patients. We are hoping to expand in the future and provide more services.
What are the contraindications to ketamine treatment?
- Active Psychosis
- Allergy to ketamine
- Uncontrolled Hypertension
- Liver Disease
- Active Substance Abuse
- Recent Traumatic Brain Injury
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Severe Cardiovascular Disease
What conditions does it treat?
Research supports that ketamine may effectively treat depression, suicidality, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. Often patients with these conditions who feel stuck in their current therapy find that a ketamine session may help move therapy in a new direction. Some preliminary research supports the hypothesis that ketamine is helpful for specific substance use disorders, including alcohol and opioid use. At this point, Voyage Healing is not offering ketamine for substance use.
Is ketamine safe?
When used under medical supervision, ketamine is an extremely safe medication. There is often a slight blood pressure and pulse boost, similar to during exercise. Ketamine has been used clinically for over fifty years. It is the anesthesia of choice for children and the elderly due to its extremely safe properties. Ketamine for mental health issues is typically used at much lower doses than for anesthesia. At this point, the evidence does not reveal long-term side effects for low-dose ketamine. However, more research needs to be done on possible long-term side effects. It is known that people who abuse high doses of ketamine (often 100x more than low-dose ketamine – daily) have a 30% risk of cystitis and cognitive deficits. There are only rare reports of cystitis at lower doses, and some research suggests cognition and memory may improve.
Will I get addicted?
The risk of addiction for a patient without a personal history or family history of substance abuse is extremely low, based on the current research. That being said, it is crucial to be aware of ketamine’s addictive potential. To safeguard the risk of addiction, we are not offering at-home ketamine treatments.
What is KAP?
KAP stands for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. It combines therapy with the ketamine experience. [Learn more here]
What’s the difference between IV, IM, PO, subcutaneous, and intranasal?
These refer to different routes of ketamine administration. IV refers to giving the ketamine intravenously, which an infusion nurse helps to prepare. IM refers to injecting ketamine intramuscularly, usually into the arm. PO refers to taking ketamine orally, often a ketamine lozenge that slowly dissolves in your mouth for 10-12 minutes. Subcutaneous injection is given right under the skin, often in the abdominal region. Intranasal refers to a ketamine spray given in the nostrils. We are currently only offering IM and PO routes of administration. We plan to provide IV and subcutaneous routes in the future. We will go over the unique aspects of each route of administration with you and will recommend a specific treatment plan based on your needs and preferences.
Do you offer nasal spray ketamine?
We do not offer ketamine nasal spray or Spravato at this point.
Do you prescribe Ketamine for at-home use?
No. We do not prescribe Ketamine for at-home use at this time. Ketamine is taken in our offices under the supervision of a clinical team.
Do I stop taking my regular medications before ketamine?
Most medications you do not need to stop. We will go over your medications with you during our intake process and determine if there are any you need to hold before taking ketamine.
What if ketamine doesn’t help me?
This is a great question! Unfortunately, Ketamine does not work for everyone, and it is essential to keep this in mind at the onset of treatment. If ketamine does not help you, other treatment options are currently available. There are also many treatments on the horizon. We will discuss these options with you and help you determine what will be the next step in your treatment journey.
Do you provide other psychedelic treatments, like MDMA and psilocybin?
No. At this point, ketamine is the only legal psychedelic medicine. However, our hope is that other psychedelic medicines will be legalized in the coming years, as much research suggests they may be beneficial in various conditions. If and when MDMA and psilocybin are legalized, we hope to offer these treatments. We are also looking into becoming a research site for other psychedelics, which may allow us to provide certain psychedelics, within a research study framework, before legalization.
Are you taking any special precautions during COVID?
All therapists are fully vaccinated; we also require patients to be fully vaccinated. We are taking additional safety measures, including HEPA filters and frequently wiping down surfaces. Please reach out to us with any other questions or concerns regarding our cleaning policies.