Frequently Asked Questions
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.
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.
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.
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.
It is strongly recommended not to go back to work or make important decisions the same day as your ketamine treatment. Taking time for self care and relaxation can help augment the ketamine treatments benefits.
Unfortunately, ketamine is usually not a one-time treatment. If you are suffering from depression, it is recommended that you have 6 initial therapies for 2-4 weeks. Some find additional benefit with 8-10 initial sessions 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 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.
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. Each individual is different, and it may depend what you are treating, and what other treatment modalities are on board as well, such as psychotherapy.
Our mission and expertise lie creating a supportive container for you to undergo your ketamine treatments. We are able to do preparation for all of our patients, and this begins during our intake process. Whether you are seeking in depth preparation sessions and integrations sessions surrounding your ketamine treatments, or simply a safe and supportive container with our highly trained nursing staff, we pride ourselves on offering the highest level of care. We never leave a patient alone in a room, and go over many details in preparing you to understand the many ways to navigate and get the most out of your ketamine treatments. All of our staff are highly trained in mental health, therapy, and how to psychologically support patients undergoing a mind altering ketamine experience.
We strongly recommend, and in some cases, require that you have an outside treatment team if you are undergoing our IV antidepressant package. We are also happy to arrange for you to see one of our incredible in-house therapists.
- Active Psychosis
- Allergy to ketamine
- Uncontrolled Hypertension
- Liver Disease
- Active Substance Abuse
- Recent Traumatic Brain Injury
- Obstructive Sleep Apnea
- Severe Cardiovascular Disease
Research supports that ketamine may effectively treat depression, bipolar depression, suicidality, anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and alcohol addiction. 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.
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 profile. 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 bladder damage and cognitive deficits. In contrast, there is some research showing that lower doses of ketamine may improve cognition and memory.
The risk of addiction for a patient without a personal history or family history of substance abuse is extremely low. That being said, it is crucial to be aware of ketamine’s addictive potential.
KAP stands for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy. It combines therapy with the ketamine experience. [Learn more here]
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. Intranasal refers to a ketamine spray given in the nostrils. We are the only ketamine clinic in Philadelphia to offer IV,PO,IM, and SQ. We pride ourselves on understanding the unique aspects of each route of administration, and we are able to recommend a specific treatment program based on your needs and preferences. It is also possible to switch your route of administration during treatment.
We do not offer ketamine nasal spray or Spravato at this point. In unique cases, we are able to obtain ketamine nasal spray if this method has worked for you in the past. In our experience, we have seen more variable absorption and addiction with this mode of delivery, so we do not generally recommend it.
Right now we do not prescribe Ketamine for at-home use. Ketamine is taken in our offices under the supervision of a medical team. However, we are developing a program to work with trained community therapists to facilitate prescribing oral ketamine for use in the comfort of your therapist’s office. If you and your therapist are interested in this option, please contact us for further information.
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.
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 steps in your treatment journey.
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.
All of our staff are 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.