Ketamine is a staple of the medical world. It’s often used as a general anesthetic in operating rooms and as an alternative chronic pain reliever among people struggling with prescription drug addiction. For the past two decades, most research from mental health experts suggests ketamine produces positive results when treating severe cases of mental health disorders. Ketamine infusion therapy is an effective treatment option with many benefits for mental health conditions such as major depression, anxiety and PTSD. Below we explain how ketamine therapy works and discuss the seven ketamine benefits that may make pursuing this mode of treatment worthwhile.

nurse connecting an intravenous ketamine infusion drip in hospital room 

What Is Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine is a psychedelic or hallucinogenic drug that induces a sense of dissociation. The use of the drug in the U.S. can be traced back to the 1970s when medics would use it to relieve pain in soldiers injured during the Vietnam War.

Ketamine therapy is a mental health treatment that infuses ketamine into your muscles through an IV. You can also get your ketamine medication through an FDA-approved nasal spray, various tablets and injections.

Ketamine infusion therapy uses small doses of the drug to help alleviate symptoms of mental health disorders.

How Does Ketamine Therapy Work?

The cells in your brain communicate by releasing chemicals called neurotransmitters. When a neurotransmitter is released from one brain cell, it attaches to a receptor chemical in another cell to transfer the message.

NMDA receptors are a class of receptors that allow brain cells responsible for learning and creating memories to take in information. The receptors excite these brain cells whenever a neurotransmitter arrives so they can receive the information.

However, malfunctioning NMDA receptors excite brain cells for too long, overstimulating them until they die. Additionally, if your brain cells can’t produce enough neurotransmitters, your brain will be unable to conduct regular learning functions. Scientists believe these factors contribute to health issues such as:

  • Major depressive disorder (MDD)
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • Mood disorders
  • Substance use disorder
  • Chronic pain

Ketamine works by inducing a quick high that produces a mystical or altered consciousness. While you’ll likely come down from the high after a few hours, ketamine stimulates an expanded consciousness that can last for days and weeks after the initial treatment. Many patients report having an easier time understanding new thoughts and ideas as well as lasting changes in mood, motivation and behavior.

Ketamine therapy is usually a six-week process of drugs being administered into your system at a doctor’s office. Each ketamine therapy session takes less than an hour, and effects typically kick in within minutes.

Before you start the treatment, a doctor will assess you to determine the level of ketamine your body will need to combat symptoms of the mental health condition you’re seeking medication for.

The first infusion session is often experimental. The doctor will monitor you to see how your body responds to the ketamine treatment and may increase your dose in later sessions until they find the right level.

7 Benefits of Ketamine Therapy

Various positive effects of ketamine make undergoing this treatment option worth the effort, including:

  • Improve mood: Ketamine blocks signals sent by NMDA receptors, reducing the excitement in your brain cells. As a result, you become less irritable and experience more prolonged periods of stable moods.
  • Psychological healing: One of the positive effects of ketamine is helping your brain create new pathways and synaptic connections for absorbing information. This enables you to achieve better results during therapy and develop healthy coping mechanisms to alleviate depressive symptoms such as suicidal thoughts.
  • Blocking pain signals: Ketamine infusion therapy can help you find relief from physical injuries. The drug reduces the number of pain signals transferred between your nerves and brain cells, decreasing inflammation and relieving chronic pain.
  • Achieve mental clarity: The expanded consciousness you experience after a ketamine infusion helps you achieve a well-rounded view of things, which can help alleviate symptoms caused by conditions such as anxiety, severe depression and PTSD.
  • Faster results: Other medications used to treat depression and other mental health conditions usually need a few weeks to take effect. However, ketamine is a fast-acting drug whose positive benefits kick in within minutes of a single infusion, making it one of the best treatment options for treatment-resistant depression.
  • Lasting relief: Aside from providing lasting relief for mood disorders, the psychedelic effects induced by ketamine are useful in alcoholism treatment. According to some studies, over 65% of alcoholics can remain sober for more than a year when they undergo ketamine infusion therapy, which only 24% of those who don’t undergo ketamine treatments achieve.
  • Minimal side effects: Regulated ketamine infusions spaced out over multiple therapy sessions protect you from side effects such as a high breathing rate and high blood pressure.

Ketamine Therapy at Camelback Recovery

The experts at Camelback Recovery have found the innovative ketamine infusion therapy useful for mental health and drug addiction treatment. Our medical professionals constantly monitor patients to ensure they successfully navigate the side effects of ketamine.

We believe ketamine therapy is best undertaken alongside other treatment options. The expanded consciousness you develop after infusions will help you better implement the beneficial changes you learn during talk therapy.

You can experience various traditional and alternative treatment options at Camelback Recovery in Arizona. Visit us at 4527 North 16th Street, Suite 200, Phoenix, AZ 85016, to tour our facilities. You can also fill out a form or contact us at 602-466-9880 to learn more about ketamine benefits in Arizona.