Before going to your first ketamine infusion appointment, you might feel a little nervous. You might worry about the IV needle, whether or not it will work, and how you will feel during the infusion. While there is no alternative for the needle prick, we can help you understand how you will likely feel during the infusion. The response that each person could have to a ketamine infusion can be grouped into three categories:
1. “I don’t feel any different.”
Some patients fall on the milder end of the spectrum – they do not feel anything out of the ordinary during the treatment. They may feel a sensation of wellbeing or relaxation, but no other obvious effects. It is important to know that even if you don’t feel different during the infusion, it does not mean that ketamine won’t help your depression. The “psychedelic” effects people associate with ketamine have no correlation with its effects within your brain to treat depression, so it’s perfectly okay if you don’t feel out of the ordinary during treatment. Even in those with unremarkable ketamine infusions, we still like you to stay with us for 5-10 minutes after the infusion is finished to ensure that there is no dizziness upon standing and walking.
2. “I haven’t felt this relaxed in years.”
This category encompasses the majority of the patients we see at Principium Psychiatry. A number of patients have equated their experience to drinking a few glasses of wine – they feel slightly inebriated, inhibited and relaxed. Other patients have said, “I feel like a weight has just been lifted off my shoulder.” Also in this category, usually directly after each “bolus”, or medication push, is a transient feeling of sleepiness or grogginess. While we don’t let patients fall asleep during their infusions, as we like to assess their mood and how they feel throughout the treatment, we have no problem with you closing your eyes and relaxing.
3. “This is like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.”
In the small minority of patients undergoing ketamine treatment, there is a possibility of a more intense “psychedelic” experience. This experience may include a perception of more vivid imagery when you close your eyes, or amplified background noise. You may have vivid daydreams (it is important to note that you will not hallucinate, but rather feel as though you are in a dream). A small number of patients have had mild emotional reactions to ketamine infusions; for example, they may become slightly teary or upset. All of these effects are transient, and likely will become less apparent after your first infusion.
The effects one may experience during a ketamine infusion may vary person by person. At Principium Psychiatry, our protocol has been fine-tuned to make it as comfortable as possible. Our patients do not experience nausea or headaches, and the treatments have been very well tolerated by our patients. Overall, patients find the infusions to be enjoyable and relaxing.