Ketamine Infusion Therapy: IV Ketamine Drip, What Is It, Therapy Benefits & More | Actify Neurotherapies
About the Author Dr. Steven P. Levine is a board-certified psychiatrist internationally recognized for his contributions to advancements in mental health care. Though he is a psychiatrist who places great emphasis on the importance of psychotherapy, medication is often a necessary component of treatment, and he was dissatisfied with the relatively ineffective available options with burdensome side effects. Dr. Levine pioneered a protocol for the clinical use of ketamine infusions, has directly supervised many thousands of infusions and has helped establish similar programs across the country and around the world.
What is ketamine infusion therapy?
Ketamine infusion therapy is a treatment option for major depression and other mood disorders. Some people do not respond sufficiently to traditional treatment plans, which usually consist of oral antidepressants and talk therapy. For people who still experience symptoms of mental health conditions while taking oral antidepressants, it can be easy to lose hope. Ketamine infusion therapy is a safe, evidenced, rapid-acting option to help manage treatment-resistant depression symptoms. Traditional antidepressants operate on the brain’s serotonin while ketamine acts on its NMDA-receptors. This difference in modality is why ketamine therapy is so groundbreaking for patients and providers. At Actify we are proud to be a growing network of treatment centers with nine locations in the United States. We have treated over 5,000 patients with over 50,000 ketamine infusions. The treatment protocol we follow for ketamine infusion treatments is upheld by peer-reviewed research and has the potential to deliver relief from symptoms of major depressive disorder in a matter of hours, rather than weeks.
At Actify we offer a range of solutions to treat mental health conditions. After consulting with one of our board-certified psychiatrists we will create a personalized treatment plan to meet your needs. Actify provides care for the following conditions:
- Bipolar Depression
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
- Some types of pain syndromes
If you’re considering ketamine therapy, this page is a great place to get a sense of the ketamine infusion experience, preparation and side effects, and the difference between ketamine infusions and nasal esketamine.
Preparing for Ketamine Infusion Therapy
We understand that trying a new depression treatment may be overwhelming for patients, especially when other options may not have worked. Being prepared for treatment is an important part of our consultation process. Receiving a ketamine infusion is a relatively simple procedure, with very few risks. Patients are connected to an IV and administered a very low dose of ketamine for about 45 minutes. Ketamine is so safe as an anesthetic that much higher doses are frequently used for short procedures for children. Such doses are often times 4-10 times higher than what we administer at Actify. For mood disorders and chronic pain treatment, evidence suggests low dose therapy is most effective. Another benefit of low dose therapy is that we have seen no long term side effects for patients under our care. One reason why patients prefer ketamine therapy is because when they are not undergoing an infusion, they are not on the medication.
During the Treatment: Possible Side Effects
During the infusion, patients sit in a reclining chair. We encourage you to be as comfortable as possible and are here to help you have a positive experience. Many patients enjoy listening to music during the infusion. You are welcome to have a family member or friend in the room with you as long as they have a calming presence during the procedure. We’ve found that it can be difficult to hold a conversation, especially during the first treatment, so we discourage talking or excessive stimulation. If you need to use the restroom, please inform the infusion nurse or psychiatrist so that you may be assisted as needed. At all times you will be able to move and walk; nevertheless, ketamine can impair your balance, and you will be connected to an IV, so it is important that you ask for assistance before walking. As a side note, while the nurse or physician is in the room to check on you, it is important to let them know of side effects during the infusion like nausea, feeling faintness or a headache. We can help you manage these side effects during the treatment.
Similar to the quick onset of sensations near the beginning of the infusion, you will find that these sensations dissipate rather quickly near the end as well. After your infusion, you may feel groggy, and that is why having a driver or other third-party transportation is essential. Most times, the grogginess completely dissipates within 3 hours after the infusion and very rarely lasts into the next morning. Of note, alcohol can contribute to a continued groggy feeling the next morning or worsening of depression or anxiety symptoms, so please abstain from drinking alcohol before or after ketamine therapy. A similar effect is possible with benzodiazepines such as Xanax, Ativan, Klonopin, Valium, and Librium, which may interfere with positive response to ketamine treatment.
These are just some general notes on side effects, so if you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask your provider on the day of your infusion.
Ketamine Infusion Experience
Ketamine infusion therapy is a personal and unique experience for each patient. However, after providing thousands of patients with care, we have observed consistencies. Below we note a few:
- At the beginning of the infusion, you may experience a benign tingling sensation in your lips or extremities
- Soon after, some patients describe a sense of “feeling heavier;” you may even feel as though your mind is detached from your body
Though these sensations may sound strange, our patients rarely feel uncomfortable. Some people are curious if ketamine can cause a “bad trip” or “hallucinations,” but ketamine is not a hallucinogen like LSD or psilocybin – it is a dissociative anesthetic that does not affect the receptors that hallucinogenic drugs act upon.
IV Ketamine vs Intranasal Ketamine
Ketamine infusion therapy uses IV ketamine while intranasal esketamine, also known as its brand name SPRAVATO, is a nasal spray. For infusion appointments, an IV will be placed for a short period of time. This is not painful after placement and has a very low risk of infection when performed by a nurse or doctor. When patients come in for esketamine treatments, they use a nasal spray applicator in-office with the supervision of a nurse. Once administered, patients spend some time in our office allowing the medicine to do its initial work. Nasal esketamine and ketamine infusions can be similar experiences for patients.
If you believe you or someone you know would benefit from ketamine therapy, contact our Patient Services team at 888-566-8774. We can help you determine your candidacy for care and help you navigate insurance options.
“Recent data suggest that Ketamine, given intravenously, might be the most important breakthrough in antidepressant treatment in decades.” – Thomas Insel, former Director of the National Institute of Mental Health
- Krupitsky EM, Grinenko AY. Ketamine psychedelic therapy (KPT): a review of the results of ten years of research. J Psychoactive Drugs. 1997;29(2):165-183.
- Singh JB, Fedgchin M, Daly EJ, et al. A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, dose-frequency study of intravenous ketamine in patients with treatment-resistant depression. Am J Psychiatry. 2016;173(8):816-826. doi:10.1176/appi. ajp.2016.16010037.
Steven Levine, MD, is the CEO and founder of Actify Neurotherapies. He has been treating patients with ketamine therapy since 2011.