Brain image of ketamine infusion

The Ketamine Infusion Experience

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic with various mechanisms of action and binds to multiple receptors in the brain. Consequently, it is difficult to pin down the precise mode of action, and it appears that there are various mechanisms through which Ketamine exerts its action on the brain. Ketamine Infusion Therapy is used to treat depression, PTSD, OCD, chronic anxiety, and chronic pain. One question that gets asked often is what does it feel like during and after the treatment?

 

Just like any drug therapy, ketamine infusion therapy can be different for everyone, and experiences may be different from one infusion to the other  In our clinic, the infusion itself is done intravenously, typically over 45 minutes, followed by a 45-60-minute period of rest while the effect of the medication wears off. The dosage and time vary depending on the individual and the disorder being treated.

 

How Will I feel During treatment?

The initial sensations begin about 5 minutes into the treatment and can last about 90 minutes. These effects wear off quickly after the infusion is stopped. Some describe the sensation of being in a dream or of being deeply relaxed. Others report an altering of perception and feeling a bit “out of their body.”  Avid meditators find their ability to achieve a prolonged sense of stillness and peace is heightened beyond anything they have experienced during a regular mediation session. Overall, patients find the experience to be intense yet pleasurable. Although the benefit from Ketamine does not require dissociation, many providers, including ourselves, believe the dissociative state is an essential and desirable state for profound psychological and spiritual growth and feel it to be a critical factor in our patient’s healing journey.

 

Will I Feel Sleepy or Sedated?

Low-dose Ketamine does not typically cause a sense of sedation, and many patients report they are pretty sharp mentally and can work through their thoughts and feelings clearly and calmly for the first time in their life. While the intensity of the effects wears off quickly, we always caution there may be some feeling of imbalance and delayed reaction time for a few hours, and we advise you not to drive or operate heavy machinery following your treatment. We require that you have someone to drive you home before we begin the infusion and ask that you abstain from alcohol or recreational drugs for at least 24 hours before and after treatment.

 

How Quickly Does It Take Effect?

For some patients, temporary relief of symptoms can occur within hours of the first infusion. However, it is important to note; this relief is typically short-lived. After several infusions over two-to-three weeks, this lifting of the depressive or anxious symptoms can be complete or markedly improved. However, it may last several weeks or months before beginning to fade. In addition, single-dose “booster” treatments at a period of two weeks to a few months after the initial induction infusions have been shown to prolong the antidepressant effect of the medication in many patients.

 

If you or someone you know suffers from Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, OCD, anxiety, or chronic pain and you would like to learn more, call us at 505-639-4973 or click here to schedule an appointment.

healthcare workers

Healthcare Workers and Mental Health During a Pandemic

It’s been nearly two years since the COVID-19 outbreak was categorized officially as a pandemic. Hospitals were overwhelmed in many parts of the US by COVID cases due to lack of space, not enough ventilators, and not enough PPE for hospital workers or anyone else in the healthcare field that might be exposed to patients suffering from the virus. In addition, protocols for those in the health field changed almost daily to keep everyone safe while the nation’s leaders figured out the next steps in real-time. The toll this has taken on our healthcare workers, and mental health has yet to be fully realized.

Healthcare Workers and Mental Health Before the Pandemic

The mental health needs of our frontline healthcare workers have been gaining attention in recent years. Being exposed to multiple stress factors within their work naturally takes a toll. According to Frontiers in Public Health, heavy workloads, long shifts, a fast-paced environment, lack of physical safety, and more contribute to the problem. Healthcare workers will often push through long, stressful shifts for long periods with little to no recovery time. These factors are putting them at risk for burnout. What is burnout? Defined as an occupational phenomenon in ICD-11: “Burnout is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions: (1) feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; (2) increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and (3) reduced professional efficacy. Burnout refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life” According to Mental Health America, 76% of healthcare workers have burnout due to the pandemic.

Burnout Isn’t the Only Problem

Healthcare workers are also reporting symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and even suicidal ideation. The KFF and Washington Post surveyed 1327 healthcare workers regarding pandemic-related stress, and nearly half of the respondents reported problems sleeping; 31% reported frequent headaches or stomach aches. In addition, 16% said they had increased their drug or alcohol use, and about half say they have experienced at least one of these issues.

What can be done?

When experiencing burnout, anxiety, depression, or any other mental health issue, the key is to reach out for help. In addition to modifying behaviors, such as getting enough sleep, eating healthy meals, practicing mindfulness techniques such as breathing exercises and meditation, accessing mental health resources should be at the top of the list. As a Ketamine Infusion Clinic, we treat a large number of healthcare workers with our groundbreaking treatments. These infusions can provide almost immediate relief for the conditions listed above.

How Does Ketamine Work?

Regarding depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and chronic anxiety; these mental health disorders are all thought to be due to the destructive effect of continual stress on the brain, leading to neuronal damage and the creation of maladaptive neural activity and abnormal thought patterns indicative of these disorders.

Research suggests that one of ketamine’s significant actions is as an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist; that is, it blocks activation of the NMDA receptor. This action leads to increased glutamate release, which is involved in neuronal plasticity and synaptic growth and repair. Through complex pathways, these effects lead to the release of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance responsible for the maintenance of healthy neurons and their connections, known as synapses.

Increased BDNF has been shown to repair and regrowth of damaged synapses and their neuronal connections caused by chronic stress in animal models. Likewise, in humans, ketamine is thought to create new neuronal circuits and repair the healthy neuronal connections that existed in the brain before the patient suffered from depression, PTSD, OCD, or chronic anxiety.

We offer 10% off our services for all healthcare workers. If you are interested in exploring Ketamine Infusion Therapy to treat Burnout, anxiety, depression, or suicidal ideation, call our clinic at 505-639-4973 or click here.

 

Latina Woman with PTSD

PTSD and Ketamine Infusion Therapy; Understanding How it Works

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in those who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. A natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or assault or the threat of death, sexual violence, or serious injury are all types of events that can lead to PTSD. While PTSD can occur in all people, according to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic groups – U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians – are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.

Traditionally, PTSD patients receive treatment such as psychotherapy and medication such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. While psychotherapy plays an integral role in recovery, most medicines prescribed have variable success rates, have a high incidence of unfavorable side-effects, and slow onset of benefit.

PTSD and Ketamine; An Accidental Discovery

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic medication first synthesized by a chemist in 1962, looking for an efficient yet safer option. Thanks to ketamine’s favorable safety profile, it rapidly replaced morphine as the “buddy drug” given by soldiers to their wounded comrades in pain on the battlefield during the Vietnam War and is still being used on battlefields today. 

During Operation Iraqi Freedom in the 1990s, doctors made a discovery. Those injured soldiers who received ketamine during their operations had a lower prevalence of PTSD than soldiers receiving no ketamine during their surgeries, despite having more severe injuries, undergoing more surgeries, and spending more time in the ICU. (National Library of Medicine).

How Ketamine Works

Research suggests that one of ketamine’s significant actions is as an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist; that is, it blocks activation of the NMDA receptor. This action leads to increased glutamate release, which is known to be involved in neuronal plasticity and synaptic growth and repair. Through complex pathways, these effects lead to the release of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance responsible for the maintenance of healthy neurons and their connections, known as synapses. It is thought that ketamine leads to creating new neuronal circuits and repairing the healthy neuronal connections that existed in the brain before the patient suffered PTSD.

It is surmised that ketamine blocks the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors increasing glutamate in the regions of the brain involved in emotion and long-term memory formation. This causes the suppression of maladaptive emotions and memories, allowing more adaptive neural circuitry and more positive emotions, and fewer negative memories.

Fast Relief

Ketamine Infusions are particularly valuable for those patients who have not responded favorably to other treatments and medications. Patients often report an improvement in PTSD symptoms within a few hours or days, in comparison to weeks or months, it takes for other therapies to begin working.

However, ketamine infusions are not a cure for PTSD and should be thought of as an adjunctive therapy that may provide rapid and lasting symptomatic relief from this condition. Patients suffering from PTSD are advised to continue with other treatments with the guidance of mental health professionals.

Ketamine Infusions Available Locally in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The use of ketamine continues to be studied and used as an effective treatment for various mood disorders. As part of the medical and psychotherapy community, we are committed to developing ways to collaborate when offering patients faster, safer, and more effective solutions to improve their quality of life.

To learn more about Ketamine Infusion Therapy, click here or call 505-639-4973 to schedule a private consultation.

Tranquility Ketamine Clinic is a leading provider of ketamine infusion therapy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Founded by two experienced emergency room physicians with over 50 years combined practice administering ketamine in the emergency department, the clinic provides effective treatments for depression, PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), chronic pain, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), anxiety, stress, and burnout in comfortable private rooms at its Northeast Albuquerque location.