The Case for Ketamine for Depression, PTSD, or Bipolar Disorder: A Patient’s Perspective

Patient talking about ketamine experience

 

Perhaps you have been diagnosed with depression and you’ve tried several medications…and none of them work. You are not alone. Millions of individuals every year change antidepressant prescriptions because of inefficacy. On the same hand, those diagnosed with bipolar disorder have their prescriptions increased over the years because of the tolerance they have built up to their current medication dosage. Not only that, but millions more are diagnosed with PTSD every year due to life trauma.

While it sounds like being diagnosed with one of these conditions is a lifelong commitment to pills, pills, and more pills, it doesn’t have to be. One of the fastest growing trends in alternative medicine is known as ketamine infusion therapy and it is gaining tremendous popularity among healthcare professionals as a solution to augment your mental health prescriptions and therapy sessions. Ultimately, the hope is that ketamine treatment will help the body no longer need the assistance of medicine and just allow patients to continue professional counseling or psychotherapy without the added pressure of maintaining a prescription schedule.

While ketamine has tremendous buzz right now, no one has explained what the process looks like for a first-time patient. That is what makes YOURx Health in Woodlands, Texas different. We sat down with a former ketamine therapy patient to bring you a first-hand account of what this wildly popular, but not quite mainstream treatment is really like.

 

Step 1: You need to do your research

Ketamine is considered safe for human consumption intravenously as it is used as a pre-op anesthetic for adults and even infants. It has been approved for use since the 1960’s but is only now making headlines for its many mental health benefits such as promoting new cell growth in the brain, calming the mind, pain reduction, and reduces the need for prescription painkillers. According to the National Library of Medicine, there are even more benefits than that. To see a full list, click here.

However, every individual is built differently, and we all react differently to medications. For those with elevated heart rates or high blood pressure, you will definitely need to read more on any potential side effects. 

Also, know your tolerance for substance abuse. This may not be comfortable to talk about, but ketamine infusion is a dissociative drug and gained popularity for illicit use in the 1980s. Because it is a controlled substance, it is understandably addicting if used in high volumes over extended periods. If you have ever had issues with addiction, then talking with a therapist in the greater Houston area before starting ketamine therapy is imperative.

 

Step 2: Find the right ketamine treatment center

This cannot be stressed enough. As painful as it is to say, there are clinics in this country that are only out to move as much legal ketamine as they can to as many people as possible just to make money. The right clinic should be patient-centric and put the client experience ahead of anything else.

To find the right clinic, you need to be proactive and actually get on the phone and call them. Don’t just call and make an appointment, ask them everything you want to know before you even show up…why waste a trip?

If this is your first time researching this, here are 10 helpful questions for you to ask your local clinic:

  1. Do they make you aware of ketamine’s side effects and/or administer anti-nausea medication prior to the ketamine IV drip?
  2. Do they monitor your vitals the entire time while you are undergoing treatment?
  3. Do they offer television, music, or lights as part of additional sensory therapy?
  4. Is the treatment covered by insurance? (You will be surprised; some are starting to)
  5. Is the staff administering ketamine IVs medically certified to do so?
  6. Is the treatment room comfortable, secure, and free from distractions or noise?
  7. How much ketamine do they recommend for the first time for a person of your height, weight, or age?
  8. How much does it cost per session and how many sessions do they recommend?
  9. What are their recommendations for follow up sessions?
  10. What nutritional supplements do they recommend taking? (Hint: consider NED supplements – read about them here

 

Step 3: Your first visit

On your first visit, uncertainty and some nerves are common. Embrace those feelings but rest assured you have made the right decision and you are in the right place at YOURx Health in Woodlands, Texas. 

Quick tip for new patients: If you are hooked up to a digital device to monitor your vitals, don’t stare at your blood pressure numbers, you will just make them go up.

One way to help relax is to dress very comfortably. You won’t be driving home or going out afterwards, so to get the most out of your therapy, you need to be physically relaxed. Wear clothes that make you feel that way.

Next, we talk about needles. If you have no issues with needles or IVs, then you’re fine. If you are not a fan of needles, then rest assured that once the IV is secured and the medicine is flowing, you won’t even remember you have a catheter in your body. (Also – this isn’t a lifesaving blood transfusion, so you can ask for a small needle like a 24 gauge)

Once the doctor administers the initial “loading dose,” (which is usually a few mg of ketamine) then the infusion therapy begins. Within a few seconds you will begin to feel a slight pressure on your forehead, nose, and cheekbones. Your face starts to become a little numb and tingly, you will slowly lose sensation in your extremities. This is common experience and nothing to fear. Your arms and legs are fine. Remember, ketamine is an anesthetic, that is its job. 

At this point you should be lying flat (or close to it) in a comfortable chair. And while you are fully awake, there is no sensation driving you to move your body. Once you are settled and still, your eyes will see things differently and this is where the magic starts to happen. Do not fight the feelings of disassociation by trying to stay present in your mind – this will give you the best results and ensure you don’t waste money on this session. When you get to the point of distorted vision, relax, and let your mind have its own internal conversation. You’ll understand what this statement means more during the therapy.

 

Step 4: It’s over, now what

Your clinic should provide you ample time to recover from your ketamine treatment. It can take about 15-20 minutes to clear your head and be able to walk. Everyone’s reaction is different, so the best advice is to move at your own pace and take your time.

At the end of your ketamine infusion session, it is usually customary to set your next appointment, pay your fee and ask the doctor any follow up questions you may have. Additionally, your provider should offer you additional follow up therapy or at least a referral to a psychiatrist or a therapist to help you understand and control your moods and thoughts better.

Once you get home, the same rule applies as when you are recovering from the therapy. Take your time. Some people go home and take a nap for hours, while some might get a little spike in energy and stay up. Either way, one thing everyone agrees on is that no one should drive or operate machinery after a ketamine session, regardless of how good you think you feel. 

So, if you are one of the millions affected by a resistance to anti-depressants, or one of the millions affected by PTSD or genetic mental health issues, there is help. While traditional medications may take weeks or months to begin working, ketamine has the unique ability to treat the brain quickly and effectively for depression, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and PTSD. Don’t try to “tough it out”, science now has the answer. Give us a call today to talk about it.

 

About YOURx Health – Ketamine Therapy and Wellness Clinic

YOURx Health has become one of the most trusted health and wellness centers in The Woodlands, Texas by adhering to a high level of comfort, security, and understanding. From regular ketamine infusion treatments to hormone therapy, you can count on YOURx Health to provide you with whole body medical care that establishes a better quality of life. Trouble with depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder? Our goal is to make our patients feel at ease knowing our own stories, our personalized approach and our quality of service make a difference for each patient that calls or walks through our door.

 

Who We Are: Leslie Ford, FNP

Clinic Location: 26710 Interstate 45 N C-200, Spring, TX 77386

Phone: (832) 585-0456