What is ketamine treatment?

Sometimes you’re depressed and can’t crawl out of it, no matter what you try. Your life’s in shambles because of it. Or you’ve suffered from a mysterious pain that won’t go away and feel trapped by it. Thankfully, there are possible solutions for both; ketamine infusion and ketamine nasal spray.


Ketamine has a celebrated, controversial history. A descendant of GBH, the drug was synthesized in 1962 as an anesthetic. It was tested immediately, proving its worth in sedating injured U.S. combat soldiers in Vietnam. Just as quickly, scientists and academics realized the potent drug offered psychedelic effects and it became a fixture in the counterculture movement. Ketamine also is infamous as a club drug, but helps reduce symptoms of mental illness and chronic pain, too.


Ketamine is used for anesthesia, as a sedative, and in veterinarian medicine. But after decades of study, researchers know it has other medicinal values. Today, the drug is used to treat a wide range of mood disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder, plus chronic pain symptoms.


Originally, ketamine was synthesized as a pre-surgical anesthetic. While it’s commonly dispensed intravenously, a variation of the drug is available as a prescription nasal spray.  

  • Ketamine infusion therapy

Ketamine infusion therapy hasn’t been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat depression; because the drug was approved in 1970 as an anesthetic, it can also be used for “off-label” purposes. This means it can be used for something other than its original intent after approval.

  • Ketamine nasal spray

In 2019, a ketamine derivative, esketamine, received FDA approval to treat symptoms of depression. The drug is available with a prescription from a doctor and is available as a nasal spray. Like infusion therapy, it has the same effect treating mood disorders and symptoms of chronic pain and similar disorders.


  • Over the counter pain relievers, or drugs which can be purchased without a prescription like acetaminophen or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like aspirin, ibuprofen, and naproxen. Topical pain relievers can also provide temporary, short-term relief.
  • Trigger point injections are used to treat uncomfortable areas of muscle which house trigger points, or bunches of muscle which coalesce when muscles can’t relax. Usually, a short treatment session will result in sustained relief.
  • Surgical implants are rare, but the two main types are spinal cord stimulation implants and intrathecal drug delivery. The former sends drugs directly into the spine; the latter uses electrical stimulation of specific nerves and the spinal cord.


Besides ketamine infusion therapy or ketamine nasal spray, there are other ways to help symptoms related to mood disorders:

  • Follow a routine and create a schedule to help stay on track.
  • Set goals to feel positive about yourself. Even hitting the smallest goal will seem like a big victory and improve your confidence.
  • Use a low-impact workout regimen to keep physically fit.
  • Challenge your brain with crossword puzzles or a game for your mobile phone that will make you think outside your comfort zone.
  • Build a consistent sleep schedule. According to certain reports, the average adult requires between seven and nine hours of sleep nightly, uninterrupted if possible.
  • Take on and finish daily tasks, like making breakfast for your kids before school, going to your job, or keeping a volunteer commitment.
  • Try something new that you avoided but always wanted to accomplish, even if you were afraid of failure.


The infusions are administered intravenously.

  • Will I fall asleep?

No. The infusion dosage quantity can make you feel a little drowsy during and following the treatment, but not enough to make you fall asleep.

  • How soon will my symptoms subside?

The time your symptoms take to subside depends on your overall health and severity of your condition before treatment. Some patients may feel an immediate effect, while others a day or two later before noticing improvement.

  • Are there side effects?

Common side effects include drowsiness, mild nausea, increased heartbeat, and a temporary boost of blood pressure. Less common side effects include agitation, vivid dreams, or mood swings.

  • Will my insurance cover the infusions?

Ketamine treatment is regarded as “off-label” therapy and not usually covered by insurance. However, depending on your plan design, your diagnosis, and in/out network restrictions, you may receive partial reimbursement for the infusion.

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