What to Expect

KETAMINE CLINIC LOCATED IN SAN DIEGO, CA

Check-in

When you arrive at the clinic, you will be greeted at the front desk. After completing payment and any necessary forms, you will be ushered into the treatment room. We will ask you to set your phone to silent and put your personal belongings in a basket near the door.

Getting Started

We will place an IV in your hand or arm. We use the tiniest IV possible to limit pain and bruising. Next, you will move to the treatment chair, and we will take your initial vital signs. We will give you noise canceling headphones and an iPad with a curated ketamine treatment playlist and guided meditations. You may also request a blanket or eye mask. We will then dim the lights so you can take a few minutes for reflection and intention setting.

Monitoring

We always monitor you during the treatment and are immediately available if you need help. After starting the infusion, we will turn off the lights and quietly step out to the monitoring area. We will monitor you continuously during your ketamine treatment. This includes monitoring your vital signs (heart rate and rhythm, blood pressure, blood oxygen levels, and respiratory rate) and audiovisual monitoring. We can see and hear you at all times. If you need anything during the session, we will immediately assist you.

Ketamine Treatment

As the ketamine infusion begins, patients feel pleasant and positive feelings and then become quite sleepy. During the ketamine infusion, people typically have a heighted sense of awareness of sensations of light, sound, and touch and often experience and altered perception of time. You may or may not experience a mild side effect of ketamine known as dissociation or a feeling of disconnection between your mind and body. When dissociation occurs, your mind has a heightened awareness of where your body is in space and your intentions to make any movement may feel delayed and clumsy. At the same time, you may also feel more introspective with a greater awareness of your feelings and emotions. Dissociation may also be accompanied by visualization of colorful shapes or patterns and a deeper appreciation for music you may be listening to.

Our goal is to target improvement in the symptoms related to the condition we are treating (depression, anxiety, PTSD, acute and chronic pain, substance dependence and other related conditions) while minimizing unwanted side effects. Unwanted side effects can include nausea, vomiting, high blood pressure, increased heart rate, and deeper levels of dissociation which may be intense, uncomfortable, or cause anxiety. At the doses of ketamine that we use, these unwanted side effects are very rare.

Most people find the mild dissociation that often occurs to be pleasant. However, it is important to remember that experiencing dissociation is not required to achieve the benefits of ketamine therapy. In the clinical studies that have been performed, 70-80% of patients had meaningful improvement in their symptoms whether they experienced dissociation or not. There is no clear benefit of dissociation and higher ketamine doses required to achieve this are often accompanied by other unwanted side effects. Thus, it is not our intention to achieve dissociation for its own sake.

Recovery

When the infusion is complete, we will enter the room to turn the pump off. Most people take twenty to thirty minutes after this to return to normal consciousness. During this time, we will continue monitoring you at all times. We will enter the room every few minutes to check on you. When you are ready, we will remove the vital signs monitors and turn on a dim light to gently ease you back to wakefulness. Please don’t feel rushed during this time. If you try to stand up before you are ready you will likely feel dizzy and need to sit down again. When you are fully awake, we will offer you a snack and juice or water. Shortly after this, you will be ready to go home. You will need to arrange a ride home or a ride-share service, as you cannot drive after your session.

Discharge, Transportation, and Home

Ketamine is a mind-affecting substance that alters your perceptions and reaction time. You will likely feel a little wobbly on your feet when you first stand up and be in a pleasant, goofy mood as you leave the clinic. Almost everyone can walk without assistance, but we have a wheelchair available if needed. Most people feel very relaxed for the rest of the day. Importantly, you should not plan to drive, work, or make any important decisions until the following morning. Please arrange to have someone you know drive you home and stay with you for a few hours after your first treatment. On subsequent treatments, you can use a ride-share service.

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