Ketamine therapy can be an effective way to treat depression, anxiety or other similar conditions. However, it is not effective for everyone, and it is generally recommended that you pursue such treatment as a last resort. This is because there is a relative lack of research into the therapy as opposed to other conventional treatment options. Let’s take a deeper look into what this type of treatment entails and some of the reasons why this may not be the right option for you.
Table of Contents
- What Is Ketamine Therapy?
- Ketamine Therapy Is Expensive
- You Don’t Have Enough Time to Commit to Treatment
- The Long-Term Effects Are Unknown
- Ketamine Can Be Addictive
- You Are Actively Using Drugs or Alcohol
- Are You Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
- Do You Have a History of Psychosis?
- Do You Have High Blood Pressure?
- Do You Have Any Other Physical Health Issues?
- Have You Tried Anything Else Yet?
- Ketamine Therapy Won’t Work for Everyone
What Is Ketamine Therapy?
This type of treatment plan is considered a long-term option for those who haven’t found relief for their depression or anxiety through more conventional methods. These methods include the use of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) in combination with group or individual therapy sessions.
Ketamine is supposed to interfere with the glutamate neurotransmitter in your brain that can cause you to ruminate or otherwise have trouble getting past your depression. It also has psychedelic properties similar to LSD or other substances that have been outlawed. However, ketamine is both legal and safe for use, and some studies say that its impacts can last for up to a month.
This substance can be taken in pill form or by injecting it into your body. After receiving the ketamine, you work with a therapist in an effort to discover and treat the triggers associated with your mental health issues.
Ketamine Therapy Is Expensive
Perhaps the most significant obstacle to receiving this type of treatment is cost. You may spend hundreds of dollars per session, which means that you’ll likely spend thousands of dollars per year on therapy. As ketamine is considered to be a novel treatment, there is no guarantee that your insurance policy would cover any of the costs associated with it.
You Don’t Have Enough Time to Commit to Treatment
In a best-case scenario, you’ll see relief from your symptoms in as little as a few hours after your first dose. Typically, it takes about two or three weeks before you start to notice an improvement in your condition. However, as receiving ketamine is only one part of the therapy program, it’s likely that you’ll spend months working with your therapist trying to achieve long-lasting relief. If you don’t have that much time to devote to this type of program, it’s probably not the best option.
The Long-Term Effects Are Unknown
Ketamine therapy has only been considered mainstream for a few years now, which means that there are many unknowns about it. Although it is safe to try, it’s unclear if it offers a faster or more permanent path to overcoming your anxiety or depression. Although studies suggest that one dose of ketamine can last for up to a month, it’s unclear whether the effects are greater than traditional medications over periods of several weeks or months. Therefore, you could be paying extra for something that doesn’t necessarily do anything extra for you.
Ketamine Can Be Addictive
Taking ketamine can be ideal for helping you get past addictions to alcohol and to most types of drugs. However, there is a significant difference between an addiction to alcohol that’s caused by depression and addiction to something caused by an underlying disorder.
For example, if you have ADHD or other neurodivergent tendencies, you may simply be at a higher risk of developing a dependency to almost anything. Therefore, you should avoid using ketamine as you may simply be trading one issue for another.
Finally, you should not use ketamine if you have been dependent on it in the past. Your doctor or therapist may be able to provide you with alternative methods that may work better for your treatment-resistant conditions.
You Are Actively Using Drugs or Alcohol
While ketamine can be used to overcome addictions to drugs or alcohol, you must stop using these substances so you can receive it. Therefore, if you are currently dependent on cocaine, marijuana or other controlled substances, you are not a candidate for this therapy. This is mostly to avoid any potential negative reactions between the ketamine and other substances. At a minimum, you would first need to go through a controlled detox program that would allow your body to get rid of these substances.
Are You Pregnant or Breastfeeding?
There is a lack of research into what the short or long-term impacts may be on a mother who is pregnant or breastfeeding a young child. Therefore, it’s possible that you could be doing harm to yourself and your unborn or newborn child at the same time. Your doctor may also discourage you from taking certain types of SSRIs while pregnant as certain prescription drugs have a potential for birth defects.
Do You Have a History of Psychosis?
If you are prone to hallucinations, hearing voices in your head or similar issues, you are likely not a candidate for ketamine therapy. This is because ketamine can exacerbate these issues as opposed to helping you get through them.
Do You Have High Blood Pressure?
The use of ketamine can lead to higher blood pressure both while it is being injected and after you have received it. Therefore, if you already have high blood pressure, hypertension or similar issues, you are discouraged from using it. This may be especially true if you are taking medications such as blood thinners that may not interact well with ketamine.
Do You Have Any Other Physical Health Issues?
As a general rule, the elderly are not advised to engage in ketamine treatment as their bodies may not be strong enough to handle it. Therefore, if you are over the age of 65, you are strongly encouraged to talk to your doctor about other options that may help alleviate your mental health issues without resulting in bone, organ or tissue damage.
Regardless of your age, you are unlikely to be a candidate for ketamine treatment if you have liver or kidney issues. This is because ketamine is metabolized by the liver much like other types of pain medications that you may take or have taken in the past.
Have You Tried Anything Else Yet?
Your doctor, therapist or other medical professionals who work with you determine whether your condition has been resistant to therapy. This means that you can’t seek ketamine therapy because you think it’s the fast and easy way to get past your anxiety or addiction issues.
Typically, you will be asked to try a variety of SSRIs and other medication before ketamine is an option. Furthermore, you may be required or strongly encouraged to engage in CBT or other types of group or individual therapies designed to train your mind to develop new ways of thinking about your past, present and future.
Ketamine Therapy Won’t Work for Everyone
It’s important to understand that ketamine therapy may not be right for you even if you are relatively young, healthy and don’t use drugs or alcohol. The medical consensus is that it will work to some degree for about 70% of patients who try it. Therefore, you still have a roughly one-in-three chance that you won’t see any type of relief even if there is nothing obvious standing in your way.
If you are interested in learning more about ketamine therapy, the folks at Live Free Recovery Services are ready to help. We can also recommend other treatment options that may fit your needs and budget such as an inpatient detox program or intensive outpatient programs. You can get in touch with us online or by phone to schedule an admission date or to ask any questions that you might have about us or our services.