Ketamine Treatment For Depression (Infusion & Intranasal)
Note, Ketamine is only for those that have failed to find any relief from other meds, and should only be used as a last alternative. With the number of antidepressants available, most will find relief there without having to rely on Ketamine.
Initially, I hadn’t planned on sharing much from my Ketamine treatment, feeling a lot of what I was going through was very personal, but after finding little information online and searching for my own answers, I knew it was best to share in order to help those in the same situation as myself.
First, if you have any questions about Ketamine treatment in general, feel free to contact me here. Of course, with anything like this, it’s best to talk with your mental health provider first, but unless they’ve underwent the treatment, they are only going to be able to go on what others tell them. I’m far from an expert, but I can let you know what to expect, or those things that may or may not be helpful without influencing your treatment. I’ll let you know what has worked for me, but each person is different, so you’ll make up your own mind.
Let me get this out of the way before I proceed further. I’ve been on many different meds throughout the years, and while some have worked better than others, nothing ever got me to where I needed to be. I work with an APRN (at my mental health care provider) for medication management, and a psychologist at the same practice, for therapy. Until recently, I was seeing my psychologist every week, but more about that later.
OK, let’s start. In January 2018, after a few conversations with my APRN, we decided it would be best to look into Ketamine treatment. I found a place in Ohio that offered the treatment intravenously, and although the cost was fairly expensive, it was pretty much my last shot at something that ‘may’ work. I started Ketamine infusion treatment there in February 2018, and finished up a couple of weeks later. I had my infusions on Tuesday afternoon at 4pm, and Wednesday at noon. I did this for three weeks, for a total of six in all.
I had no idea of what to expect that first day. Would I feel better after the first infusion? Would it be so bad that I wouldn’t want to return for the second? I was told that it may take between 3-5 infusions before I started to notice the benefits, and this was mostly true in my case, although I did feel a bit better after that first infusion. As I mentioned above, the treatment will be different for each individual, but day one was beneficial to me in lots of different ways, and this continued after the second infusion that next day. Infusions number three through the final sixth infusion were no different. All beneficial.
If you’re reading this, you may have already researched how Ketamine treats depression, and how it interacts with the brain. I won’t go into all of that, since all of this information is available with a simple Google search. I want to stay more on how the treatments work, and what worked for me, and how it might possibly work for you, if you decide to go with it.
A typical Ketamine infusion dosage is 0.5 mg/kg administered over a 40-45 minute period. My first infusion was purposely a bit slower at 50 minutes, just to get me used to the process. Each infusion after that was around 40 minutes. Doing the math, a 200 pound person would receive 45mg of Ketamine during one treatment.
During each of my infusions, I never got the sense of feeling heavy, that others have described, but the exact opposite. I almost had a feeling as if I were floating. This goes to show you how this is different for everyone. Don’t go into your treatment, or any other treatment for that matter, thinking that this will work and that you can ‘expect’ this, because odds are you won’t. My advice, keep an open mind, and be willing to expect anything. Ketamine treatment for depression is a big leap, and not for the timid.
Infusion treatment can be a little overwhelming, given the dosage, and the overall experience. If you’re interested in some of the personal experiences that are sort of a byproduct of the treatment itself, then feel free to contact me. I’m fine with sharing some of this information, but I don’t feel that it’s necessary to share here. Once again, this is only my perspective and may or may not benefit you in any way. I don’t want to plant any false delusions in the mind of others. Things like asking for a pillow and/or a blanket before starting the infusions are a no-brainer. It's important to be as comfortable as possible if you want things to work right. Even if you don't use them, they will be there beside you in case you change your mind 20 minutes later. It's easier to ask for this stuff in the beginning than it is later. Trust me...
A couple of months after my initial treatment, I went back to Ohio for two booster infusions, once again on a Tuesday/Wednesday. I didn’t feel the depression or anxiety at a scale of when I started that first infusion earlier in the year, but I could feel the storm clouds starting to form and wanted to get the sunny skies back before things got worse. Usually, only a single booster is required, but given the distance that I needed to drive, and all of the other things involved, I didn't want to chance a single infusion.
The booster infusions got me back on the right track, and now I'm taking a Ketamine intranasal spray, prescribed to me by a psychiatrist that my APRN met (after my infusion treatment). The nasal spray is a much smaller dosage than you would receive from an infusion, but then again you take it every few days. This helps to prevent that slow decline that you may get from an infusion, and possibly needing to go back for a maintenance/booster infusion a few months later.
It’s been a while and I don’t know if I’ll be going back for Ketamine infusion maintenance again. The cost difference between an infusion and intranasal spray is night and day. That aside, the spray is working better than I had expected, given the lose dose (around 6mg). The infusion being a sledge hammer on my brain, albeit a well placed sledge hammer, and the nasal spray, a tack hammer. I can take the nasal spray, and although it gets me a bit dizzy for an hour or so, I’m still able to function. With the infusion, this wasn’t possible. With both, don’t even think about driving afterwards. First, they won’t let you leave the infusion clinic if you don’t have someone there with you, to drive you home, or in my case, back to the hotel.
So, Ketamine infusion treatment, or intranasal spray? Both have their advantages, neither really have disadvantages given the final outcome, IMHO. Infusion treatment is going to set you back a few thousand dollars, and you may or may not need to go back for maintenance infusions, which will cost you around $500 a piece. The other ‘side effects’ from the infusion treatment could be helpful, even if they don’t seem so at the time. The nasal spray is going to be the cheaper route, and that sense that you’re starting to slip isn’t there since you take it every few days.
I’m glad that I’ve gone through both treatments, and I continue to use the nasal spray. Would the nasal spray be as effective if I didn’t do that initial Ketamine infusion therapy? I don’t know, and never will. Fortunately, both are available right now thanks to tons of research, so if you’ve reached the end of your rope with medications not helping and you’re looking for something that may be the missing piece of the puzzle, then Ketamine is definitely worth the shot. Just be careful, do your own research, and understand what you’re getting into. You may or may not be the same person after that first treatment, especially the infusion. This could be a good thing though.
Finally, as I had mentioned in the beginning. I see an APRN for medication management, and also therapy if you will, given that I’ve been seeing her for years now. I used to see a psychologist for weekly psychotherapy appointments, but I stopped a couple of weeks after the initial infusion treatment. I felt as if I had gotten to a point to where I was wasting her time, and mine. I was feeling much better and I didn’t have anything to talk about during appointments. It was frustrating, but a relief at the same time. Was this the right thing to do? I don’t know, but I do know that I’m feeling happier now. Happier than I have ever been. I'm seeing things that I've never seen before. Feeling things that I've never felt. I haven't been back to see my psychologist in a while now, and I honestly don't know if I will.
If it weren’t for the Ketamine treatment, I don’t know where I’d be, which is a scary thought. I still take a small dose (150mg) of Wellbutrin XL each morning. Wellbutrin is the only med that came close to providing me some relief, but not much. As miraculous as the Ketamine treatment is, it can't do it all, or at least in my case. It took a very long time, but I got there...
That’s about it - I'll update this page as time goes on. Thanks for reading. :)