Ketamine FAQs

Ketamine FAQs

What is ketamine and how does it work?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic commonly used in hospitals and medical settings. First synthesized in 1956, ketamine was employed during the Vietnam War for surgical procedures and was approved for medical use by the FDA in 1970. In recent years, clinical researchers have discovered a range of additional applications for ketamine to treat psychological and medical conditions such as treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, substance use issues and chronic pain.

Ketamine appears to work by targeting the NMDA receptors in the brain, providing rapid and significant relief from mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety. Research has shown that ketamine enhances the production of brain-derived neurotropic factor (BDNF) resulting in its antidepressant effects. BDNF also promotes neuroplasticity, helping your brain learn and adapt to break free from “stuck” patterns of mood, thought, and behavior.

What conditions can ketamine treat?

Studies show that ketamine can be effective in treating mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, addiction, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and PTSD. Some people also seek ketamine treatment for psychological and spiritual exploration to gain a broader perspective on life and spirituality.

Is ketamine safe?

Yes. Ketamine is widely used as an anesthetic agent in medical practice, both in the US and around the world. It is regarded as extremely safe with minimal risks of cardiac issues or respiratory depression. Furthermore, the doses of ketamine provided during treatments at Wholeness Center are far below the levels used safely for anesthetic purposes. 

We believe ketamine is the best compound to introduce someone to psychedelic medicine due to its high safety profile and anxiety reducing effect. Most people experience a sense of calm and safety during ketamine treatment, which makes this an ideal medicine for someone trying a psychedelic for the first time.

Is ketamine addictive?

In the dosages and frequency of administration we utilize for treatments at Wholeness Center, ketamine does not pose any concerns for addiction. We carefully monitor all patients for tolerance and continually assess responses to treatment to optimize the benefits of ketamine in your care.

How quickly does ketamine work?

Ketamine’s rapid response rate is one of its most significant advantages over SSRIs and other mental health treatment approaches. People will often notice benefits in a matter of hours, as opposed to weeks or months for other pharmacological treatments. Studies show that ketamine can facilitate acute reduction of depression, suicidality, and anxiety symptoms in patients within a day or two of treatment.

What is the difference between ketamine treatment and KAP?

As ketamine grows in popularity as a mental health treatment, ketamine infusion centers have become very common. These settings are often medicalized, providing ketamine in sterile environments without attention to variables such as “set and setting” which have been shown to promote greater healing in psychedelic therapy. 

At Wholeness Center, we believe that ketamine is best utilized in conjunction with psychotherapy in a model called Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). This approach takes advantage of ketamine’s ability to promote deeper states of self-awareness and accelerates its healing potential. In KAP treatments, patients collaborate with a therapist to better prepare for and understand the insights that typically arise during ketamine sessions. Additionally, KAP treatment emphasizes the importance of integration for optimal benefits. Integration helps you make sense of what you learn in ketamine sessions and apply these insights to make positive and lasting changes in your life. We are proud to offer KAP as a unique and transformative treatment for our patients.

What can I expect when starting KAP treatment at Wholeness Center?

Before you can begin ketamine treatment, you must first meet with one of our medical providers for an intake appointment. During this visit, we will explore the issues you are struggling with and evaluate your medical and psychological history to ensure you are a good fit for ketamine. 

If you are approved for treatment, you will be recommended to meet with a Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy provider for a preparation session. This is an important step in the process to learn about how KAP treatment works and what to expect during the KAP sessions, as well as to build a sense of safety and trust with your therapist. Your therapist will collaborate with you on a treatment plan involving a series of KAP sessions along with integration sessions, based on your medical provider’s recommendations. 

Integration is a vital component of KAP treatment. During these sessions, your therapist will work with you to help process your experience and take steps to make positive changes in your life. Integration sessions follow ketamine medicine sessions within two to five days to take advantage of the neuroplasticity that ketamine engenders in the brain—the ability to create new habits and break free from “stuck” thought patterns and emotional responses. This is the “therapy” part of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, and we believe it is the pivotal aspect of KAP that enables people to find sustained benefits and deep personal transformation from ketamine treatment. 

Does ketamine have any side effects?

Some people may experience side effects from ketamine treatment. These are typically mild and transient, wearing off within a few hours following treatment. A few people may experience side effects that can include nausea and elevated heart rate or blood pressure. You will be carefully screened for underlying medical concerns prior to taking ketamine to ensure you are a good fit for this treatment. As needed, antinausea and antihypertensive medications may be administered to prevent or reduce any side effects.

Ketamine produces a feeling of disconnection from one’s body and a non-ordinary state of consciousness. This may be experienced as distortions in perception, time, and sense of self. We believe these effects are integral to the psychotherapeutic potential of ketamine, freeing you from typical thought patterns and providing a “break” from your usual state of being. KAP treatment often involves exploration of the novel sensory, emotional, and cognitive material that may arise during a ketamine session, which may provide useful insights to learn from and integrate into your daily life.

How is ketamine administered?

Wholeness Center provides ketamine via three different routes of administration: Intravenous line (IV), Intramuscular injection (IM), and Sublingual (Oral). You can learn more about these on our website.

What else sets Wholeness Center apart from other ketamine providers?

In addition to being the leading clinic in Northern Colorado offering Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, Wholeness Center provides a range of integrative mental health services that synergize with ketamine therapy. We understand that well-being—both mental and physical—is a holistic process. As such, our team of providers will collaborate with you to address all the components of your health and wellness, from diet and lifestyle to psychology and cognitive functioning. We combine treatments such as neurofeedback, nutritional supplementation, and intravenous nutritional therapy that enhance the brain remodeling effects of ketamine and provide optimal results for your care.  

How many sessions will I need?

The number of recommended ketamine or KAP sessions depends on your specific treatment needs. Generally, patients receiving ketamine treatment will need 6 to 8 sessions. For those struggling with chronic, treatment-resistant depression or severe suicidality, 6 or more sessions of ketamine or KAP treatment is often required to see sustained benefits. Patients challenged by chronic anxiety, OCD, or PTSD may require 8 or more sessions to find relief from their symptoms. 

Some people may return for occasional booster sessions every few months to maintain these benefits. These numbers are an estimate and may vary person to person based on your specific needs and treatment response over time. For those engaging in KAP treatment, additional preparatory and integration sessions will be involved as recommended by your therapist.

Do you offer a sliding scale for ketamine treatment?

Yes, many of our clinicians offer sliding scales and will be happy to work with you based on your financial needs. We also offer scholarships for those that cannot afford the full cost of treatment. Please give us a call to discuss these options.

How do I apply for the MDMA study?

If you believe that you have severe PTSD (debilitating and incapacitating symptoms) you can apply at www.mdmaptsd.org