In recent years, ketamine has been called a “wonder drug” for its ability to rapidly relieve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain. Because of this, ketamine infusion therapy has become a popular treatment option for people who have not found relief from traditional medications or therapies.
But being an off-label medication, there has been some debate about the safety of ketamine infusion therapy.
What Is Ketamine?
Ketamine is an FDA-approved medication that has been used for decades in hospitals as an anesthetic during surgical procedures. Recently, it has gained popularity as an off-label treatment for a variety of conditions, including depression, anxiety, chronic pain, PTSD, and suicidal ideation. It is also being investigated as a potential treatment for substance use disorders.
Studies have found that ketamine has a rapid onset of action (within hours) and can provide prolonged relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety, and chronic pain that lasts for weeks or months.
This is unlike traditional antidepressant medications, which can take weeks or months to kick in and have to be taken on an ongoing basis.
Why Ketamine Therapy?
Mental health illnesses like anxiety and depression are often effectively managed using medication and psychotherapy. But those who do not respond to these approaches are left with little to no hope of relief. This is where ketamine therapy comes in.
Ketamine infusion therapy has been found to be highly effective in alleviating symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, and severe chronic pain. Its ability to rapidly reduce symptoms and provide long-term relief makes it an attractive option for those who have not found relief elsewhere.
Safety of Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Ketamine has a long and well-established safety profile spanning over five decades of use during surgical and other invasive medical procedures. And considering that ketamine infusion therapy utilizes much lower doses than those used for anesthesia, it is safe and well tolerated by most patients.
According to a report published by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, ketamine infusions administered over a five-year period for acute pain management displayed excellent safety results with no long-term adverse effects.
But as with any medication, there are some potential side effects associated with ketamine infusions, such as dizziness, nausea, vomiting, increased heart rate, and mild dissociation. These side effects usually dissipate within hours and rarely require further medical attention.
In addition, ketamine infusion therapy is strictly administered under the care of a board-certified anesthesiologist in a medical setting. This ensures that patients are closely monitored during treatment to minimize potential adverse reactions.
Overall, ketamine infusion therapy is a safe and viable off-label treatment for those who have not found relief from traditional medications or therapies. However, not everyone will pass the eligibility criteria for ketamine therapy. Patients with severe heart disease, a history of substance abuse, and those taking certain medications may not be suitable candidates.
Ketamine infusion therapy is a safe, effective, and rapid-acting alternative treatment for treatment-refractory conditions like depression, anxiety, chronic pain, and more. And while there are some potential side effects associated with ketamine infusions, they are usually mild and short-lived.