Minimal Ketamine Side Effects
Perhaps the best news about Ketamine is that it has minimal side effects.
At AKTARI, we use low-dose slowly injected Ketamine that does not have side effects that are associated with commonly prescribed antidepressants. This is the preferred dosing method used to treat depression and other psychiatric syndromes. During treatment for neuropsychiatric indications, some patients may experience mild confusion, lucid daydreaming, fuzzy vision, or nausea — these symptoms rapidly dissipate once the treatment is over. Just to be safe, patients are not to drive home after treatment.
As you may have already experienced, many commonly prescribed antidepressants have a range of mild, moderate, or severe side effects, including weight gain, loss of libido (sexual desire), erectile dysfunction, decreased orgasm, fatigue, drowsiness, insomnia, and dry mouth. Ketamine doesn’t seem to have these lingering after effects, or even problems during treatment other than brief mild confusion, lucid daydreaming, fuzzy vision or occasional nausea. Many people describe the IV Ketamine treatment as “pleasant”.
Why Low-Dose IV Infusion versus High-Dose Infusion?
High-dose rapidly injected Ketamine is often used in emergency medicine because it is a general anesthetic, induces a trance-like state, has pain-killing sedative and memory-loss effects, but it may also cause hallucinations. It has a high safety margin because heart function, breathing rate, and airway reflexes are generally unaffected by Ketamine, which is one reason it is the preferred anesthetic for surgery in remote areas. However, high dose rapidly injected Ketamine is inappropriate for use as an antidepressant because of the trance and hallucination side effects.
There isn’t much information yet on long-term effects of repetitive Ketamine therapy. Studies so far indicate the Ketamine’s antidepressant effects last a few weeks or months, meaning that Ketamine may need to be administered repeatedly. Ketamine is not addictive, and studies show that patients do not become resistant to the treatment over time. So far, there seem to be few or no long-term adverse effects of Ketamine therapy.
“Feeling better faster, getting the mood to improve faster — that’s why Ketamine is very promising.”
Dr. Alan Manevitz, Clinical Associate Professor, Cornell Medical Center