What does the ketamine infusion protocol for depression entail? Patients in search of relief from persistent depressive symptoms are turning to ketamine infusion therapy – a series of precisely dosed treatments monitored for efficacy and safety. This article strips away the complexities and provides a clear understanding of the process, from initial dosage to monitoring results, making sense of what has become a hopeful option for many.

Key Takeaways

  • Ketamine infusion therapy, particularly for treatment-resistant depression, operates uniquely on NMDA receptors, increasing glutamate levels and enhancing mood regulation, showing up to 70% effectiveness¹ in alleviating symptoms.
  • Plus by APN provides a personalized and holistic treatment approach to ketamine therapy, emphasizing patient safety, medically supervised dosage customization, and supportive environments that aid recovery and mental wellness.
  • While the immediate and short-term effects of ketamine on depression are promising, with rapid symptom alleviation, there are potential side effects and a need for ongoing treatment strategies. Long-term effects and comparisons to other antidepressants point to ketamine’s distinct and rapid efficacy but necessitate further research for broader and long-term application.

Understanding Ketamine Infusion Therapy

In 1970, the FDA approved ketamine as an anesthetic. Later, experts discovered that the drug had antidepressant effects. This discovery led to a revolutionary shift in mental health treatment, offering hope for those with treatment-resistant depression who did not respond well to traditional antidepressants. 

The FDA approved esketamine² (a derivative of ketamine) in 2019 specifically for treating major depressive disorder due to its high success rate.

The key factor behind the impressive effectiveness of ketamine infusion therapy lies in its unique impact on NMDA receptors in the brain – a mechanism distinct from common antidepressants.³ These results include elevated levels of glutamate (the most powerful chemical messenger), reinforced neural connections within regions affected by depression, and improved functioning of brain circuits responsible for regulating mood.

Studies show that ketamine, initially used for major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression, can also benefit various other mental health conditions, such as anxiety disorders, PTSD, obsessive-compulsive disorder, mood disorders, and substance use disorders.

Additionally, it has shown promising outcomes, especially when it comes to acute suicidal ideation.⁴

How Ketamine Works

The interaction of ketamine with NMDA receptors in the brain causes a rise in glutamate levels, unlike traditional antidepressants. This rise can explain ketamine’s impact on mental health: an increase in neurotransmitters strengthens neural connections within regions of the brain that are typically affected by depression.

The resulting improvement in mood regulation and functioning of key circuits is what makes ketamine such an effective treatment for depression. Its ability to enhance these aspects is what sets it apart from other common antidepressant medications.

Conditions Treated with Ketamine

Doctors mainly utilize ketamine infusion therapy to address treatment-resistant depression and major depressive disorder, but its therapeutic possibilities extend beyond these conditions. Its effectiveness extends not only to those mentioned above, but it has also shown promise in treating other mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)⁵, bipolar disorder⁶, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), anxiety disorders, and chronic pain conditions like fibromyalgia and migraines.

Remarkably, within just three days of ketamine treatment for suicidal ideation, patients experience a significant decrease in their thoughts of suicide by 63%.⁴ The treatment displays a remarkable success rate among individuals with acute suicidality – encouraging results, indeed. This type of therapy may even have potential applications in addressing additional mental health concerns such as anxiety disorders, PTSD, and substance use disorders.

These successful outcomes demonstrate that there are numerous possible uses for ketamine when it comes to managing mental health matters, warranting further research. Potential conditions that may benefit from ketamine therapy include:

  • Anxiety-related ailments
  • Substance use Disorders
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PSTD) Bipolar Depression.

Plus by APN’s Customized Treatment Approach

Plus by APN’s method of utilizing ketamine therapy goes beyond simply administering the treatment. We acknowledge that each patient has unique needs, and we customize doses and closely monitor treatments to ensure effectiveness and safety. Our approach is all-encompassing as it incorporates evidence-based therapies, interventional psychiatry techniques, neurotechnology advancements, and personalized medicine management to create a comprehensive strategy for addressing mental health conditions.

We offer a supportive environment specifically tailored to each individual’s needs. Our integrated approach also acknowledges the emotional aspect of recovery from mental health conditions. For this reason, the team at Plus by APN strives towards creating an optimal setting where patients feel supported while undergoing these transformative treatments. We are committed to providing personalized care so that individuals may attain positive outcomes on their path toward improving mental well-being.

Initial Consultation

Each individual should have an initial consultation prior to treatment to tailor their approach. At Plus by APN, patients can easily schedule this appointment through various methods such as phone calls, live chats, or online forms. This session thoroughly evaluates the patient’s mental health and marks the beginning of creating their personalized treatment plan.

During this consultation, we carefully consider any pre-existing medical conditions to assess how they may affect the effectiveness and safety of ketamine treatments. Our team prioritizes each patient’s needs during this meeting and considers their individual journey toward well-being when designing their unique treatment plan.

Plus by APN’s intake team strives to provide helpful information about treatments offered, including the processes involved and payment options available, ensuring patients feel supported throughout their experience. Our goal is to ensure we answer all questions regarding procedures and provide peace of mind before proceeding with any recommended treatment plans.

Personalized Treatment Plan

The initial consultation plays a crucial role in developing an individualized treatment plan for ketamine therapy at Plus by APN. Through collaborative assessment, our team designs a comprehensive infusion therapy program tailored to each patient’s specific needs based on their mental health conditions.

Typically, Plus by APN‘s ketamine treatment plans include 4-8 sessions, and closely monitor and adjust them as needed throughout therapy. This personalized approach is essential in addressing depression and other mental health issues effectively while also facilitating breakthroughs during psychotherapy sessions.

Protocol for Ketamine Infusions

Patients starting their journey with ketamine treatment must be familiar with the protocol for ketamine infusions. These protocols rely on preliminary research studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of this approach; the usual initial dose for ketamine infusion is typically 0.5mg/kg, and doctors may increase the dosage up to 1.0mg/kg depending on the patient’s response.

Typically, patients undergo a series of six infusions to manage their treatment-resistant depression symptoms. These infusions can occur every other day or every two days, and each session lasts around 40 minutes at a certified clinic, where the entire visit takes approximately two hours.

In clinical trials, one study found ketamine effectively reduces depression symptoms in treatment-resistant individuals⁷ through an initial dose, followed by repeated and maintenance doses, offering significant short-term relief.

Dosage and Duration

When determining the appropriate dosage and duration for ketamine treatment, a common starting point is 0.5 mg/kg, administered over a period of 40 minutes through IV administration. Doctors may adjust this dose based on the patient’s clinical response and any potential side effects observed, potentially increasing the amount administered if initial results are satisfactory.

Typically, an initial course of therapy involves six treatments spread out over three weeks. Our treatment team may schedule additional maintenance treatments every two to four weeks as needed to maintain positive outcomes from ketamine treatment.

Monitoring and Safety

The topmost priority is ensuring the safety of patients undergoing ketamine infusion. During administration, vital signs, including blood pressure, heart rate, and oxygen saturation, should be monitored to ensure patient well-being. These checks must continue every 15 minutes for at least an hour after completion of the infusion. In the event of a rise in blood pressure by 20% from baseline, levels above 160 systolic or below 100 diastolic, a healthcare professional may take measures to slow down or temporarily halt the ketamine infusion.

Patients receiving ketamine infusions also need to be closely monitored for any changes in consciousness level and indications of potentially adverse effects on mental health as part of their overall safety protocol. Recovery assessment involves checking whether all vital signs have returned to pre-infusion levels and if dissociative symptoms are no longer present, indicating that the patient’s mental faculties have normalized post-treatment. Along with this, clinicians should diligently record adverse events experienced by patients while gathering feedback on satisfaction levels, which will aid in continually improving quality standards for ketamine therapy, thus promoting its effectiveness and safe implementation.

The Plus by APN Clinic Experience

Plus by APN clinics prioritize the comfort and well-being of patients during their ketamine therapy experience. Each clinic has been thoughtfully designed with soothing interiors to create a peaceful and mindful atmosphere for treatment. While equipped with necessary medical equipment, these clinics also provide a warm and welcoming environment that promotes relaxation.

Locations like APN Lodge in Colorado offer luxurious accommodations and personalized therapeutic interventions for comprehensive healing. This approach integrates whole-person care into the ketamine therapy process, ensuring that patients receive top-quality support throughout their journey toward wellness.

Comfortable and Calming Environment

Ensuring a comfortable clinic setting is crucial in cultivating a pleasant experience during ketamine treatment sessions. Plus by APN specializes in crafting an atmosphere that promotes relaxation and mindfulness, amplifying the therapeutic benefits of ketamine infusions for our patients.

Supportive Staff

The Plus by APN team is integral to guiding patients through their ketamine treatment journey. Patients have access to a multidisciplinary group of psychiatrists, doctors, nurses, and master’s-level clinicians.

For assistance during the intravenous ketamine treatment process, individuals can explore chronic pain management options at our IV ketamine clinic.

At Plus by APN Malibu, clients typically begin working closely with a therapist before their first session to evaluate their condition and establish trust. Our use of enhanced emotional receptiveness induced by ketamine enhances outcomes in psychotherapy sessions as part of the healing process.

We offer personalized therapy sessions at our facility in both virtual and face-to-face settings for clients seeking individualized care catered towards meeting specific needs related to chronic pain.

Results and Progress with Ketamine Treatment

Ketamine treatment is known for its impressive ability to alleviate depressive symptoms quickly. Unlike conventional antidepressants, which may take weeks to work, ketamine infusions often lead to rapid relief of depression symptoms, offering hope for those who have not had success with traditional antidepressants.

The beneficial effects from the initial round of ketamine treatments typically last several days or even weeks.⁸ Although ketamine does not provide a permanent cure, attenuating the effectiveness of subsequent doses indicates that ongoing treatment strategies are necessary to sustain positive results from ketamine treatment.

Short-term Outcomes

Ketamine infusions have the potential to have a significant and rapid impact on treatment-resistant depression. Unlike traditional antidepressants, which can take weeks to show results, ketamine offers faster relief with a quick onset of action after administration.⁹ This almost immediate effect makes it a stand-out option among other mental health treatments.

The length of time someone experiences relief from the symptoms of ketamine can vary from several days up to two weeks following an infusion. Counseling sessions are usually scheduled within 24 hours of each ketamine dose to make the most of the improved openness and readiness for therapy that patients experience.

Long-term Benefits

Ketamine infusions have both immediate and long-term positive effects for individuals seeking treatment. A recent study from 2021 found high response and remission rates among patients with depression who received repeated ketamine infusions, with nearly half maintaining this response even nine months later.¹⁰

These results demonstrate the potential effectiveness of using ketamine as an ongoing option for treating depression due to its proven antidepressant characteristics. Recent research suggests incorporating regular doses of ketamine to sustain its beneficial impact on reducing depressive symptoms. These findings highlight the importance of recognizing and addressing the necessity for continued use of ketamine, especially when considering the detrimental consequences of discontinuing infusion on early relapses.  

Maintaining a steady flow of this medication can help keep up with the desired antidepressant effects, as proven by various studies from recent years. The promising potential of treating depression with ketamine should be acknowledged and explored further to promote an ongoing improvement in patients suffering symptoms.

Potential Side Effects and Risks

Like any medical treatment, there are potential risks and side effects associated with ketamine infusion therapy. Some common reactions may include dissociation, intoxication, sedation, elevated blood pressure, dizziness, headache, blurred vision, anxiety, nausea, and vomiting. It is important to know these possible outcomes before undergoing ketamine treatment.

Ketamine infusion also carries the risk for misuse and abuse, as well as psychiatric events, including increased blood pressure, respiratory depression, and lower urinary tract symptoms. Some research highlights issues with patients outside a healthcare setting receiving doses twice as high as what is typically required for anesthesia purposes, which highlights the dangers associated with non-medical use.

Despite being an FDA-approved anesthetic and on WHO’s essential medicines list, ketamine has not received approval for treating psychiatric conditions. This lack of endorsement further contributes to questions about its safety and effectiveness. The FDA warns against using compounded versions like oral formulations intended for mental health issues due to a lack of provider expertise, reliability, or evaluation from regulatory authorities.

Common Side Effects

Some of the most frequent adverse effects associated with undergoing ketamine infusion are dissociation, feeling intoxicated, experiencing nausea, and a rapid heart rate. Other potential outcomes may include pain relief, temporary memory loss, and feelings of intense happiness.

While receiving ketamine treatments, healthcare providers should carefully monitor patients for any adverse reactions to address side effects and guarantee the patient’s well-being effectively.

Long-term Effects and Research

While the immediate and short-term impacts of ketamine therapy through infusion have been studied extensively, research is needed to understand its long-term effects. There is a recognized necessity for clinical studies that can assess how safe and effective this treatment is in different age groups and psychiatric conditions beyond just depression.

Clinical findings indicate that repeated use of ketamine as therapy for depression does not negatively affect cognitive functioning.¹¹ 


In summary, ketamine infusion therapy is a promising treatment option for individuals struggling with depression and other mental health disorders. Its unique way of functioning, fast-acting relief, and potential long-term benefits distinguish it from traditional antidepressants. Plus by APN’s personalized approach to ketamine therapy includes customized dosing, supportive staff members, and a comfortable clinic environment, which improves the overall treatment experience.

However, it should be noted that ketamine infusion therapy carries its own set of potential side effects and risks, similar to any medical intervention. Understanding these factors and the need for more research on prolonged outcomes in various patient populations is important when making decisions about available treatments. This information will guide you while embarking on your path toward improving mental wellness.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is ketamine infusion therapy?

Ketamine infusion therapy is a modern approach to treating depression and various other mental health disorders. This treatment method involves delivering ketamine, an anesthetic originally used for medical procedures, intravenously.

How does ketamine work to alleviate depression?

Ketamine works to alleviate depression by acting on NMDA receptors in the brain, increasing levels of glutamate, and strengthening neural connections, which enhance brain circuit function and mood regulation.

What conditions can be treated with ketamine?

The use of ketamine infusion therapy has shown promise in treating various mental health conditions such as major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, anxiety disorders, PTSD, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Ongoing research is also being conducted to explore its potential benefits for other related ailments.

What are the potential side effects and risks of ketamine infusion therapy?

Ketamine infusion therapy can cause dissociation, sedation, and an increase in blood pressure. It also carries potential risks of abuse, psychiatric events, and respiratory depression – a factor that providers and patients must carefully consider, along with potential benefits and side effects, before starting treatment.

How does Plus by APN approach ketamine infusion therapy?

At Plus by APN, we approach ketamine infusion therapy by offering personalized treatments tailored to individual patient needs. We designed the clinic environment to promote relaxation and mindfulness, with a supportive staff guiding patients throughout the treatment process.

  1. DeWilde, Kaitlin E et al. “The promise of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression: current evidence and future directions.” Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences vol. 1345,1 (2015): 47-58. doi:10.1111/nyas.12646
  2. “FDA Approves New Nasal Spray Medication for Treatment-Resistant Depression; Available Only at a Certified Doctor’s Office or Clinic.” U.S. Food & Drug Administration, 5 Mar. 2019, https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/fda-approves-new-nasal-spray-medication-treatment-resistant-depression-available-only-certified. Accessed 15 Feb. 2024. 
  3. Zanos, P, and T D Gould. “Mechanisms of ketamine action as an antidepressant.” Molecular psychiatry vol. 23,4 (2018): 801-811. doi:10.1038/mp.2017.255
  4. Abbar M, Demattei C, El-Hage W, Llorca P, Samalin L, Demaricourt P et al. Ketamine for the acute treatment of severe suicidal ideation: double blind, randomised placebo controlled trial BMJ 2022; 376 :e067194 doi:10.1136/bmj-2021-067194
  5. Liriano, Felix et al. “Ketamine as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder: a review.” Drugs in context vol. 8 212305. 8 Apr. 2019, doi:10.7573/dic.212305
  6. Bennett, Raquel et al. “Ketamine for Bipolar Depression: Biochemical, Psychotherapeutic, and Psychedelic Approaches.” Frontiers in psychiatry vol. 13 867484. 23 May. 2022, doi:10.3389/fpsyt.2022.867484
  7. Phillips, Jennifer L et al. “Single, Repeated, and Maintenance Ketamine Infusions for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” The American journal of psychiatry vol. 176,5 (2019): 401-409. doi:10.1176/appi.ajp.2018.18070834
  8. Walsh, Zach et al. “Ketamine for the treatment of mental health and substance use disorders: comprehensive systematic review.” BJPsych open vol. 8,1 e19. 23 Dec. 2021, doi:10.1192/bjo.2021.1061
  9. Mandal, Suprio et al. “Efficacy of ketamine therapy in the treatment of depression.” Indian journal of psychiatry vol. 61,5 (2019): 480-485. doi:10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_484_18
  10. Li, Weicheng et al. “Long-term outcomes of repeated ketamine infusions in patients with unipolar and bipolar depression: A naturalistic follow-up study.” Journal of affective disorders vol. 300 (2022): 172-178. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2021.12.084

Dai, Danika et al. “Neurocognitive effects of repeated ketamine infusion treatments in patients with treatment resistant depression: a retrospective chart review.” BMC psychiatry vol. 22,1 140. 22 Feb. 2022, doi:10.1186/s12888-022-03789-3