First Consideration

It is best for a patient to have a solid medical team all working together. The patient should reach out to their primary behavioral health practitioner, psychologist, and/or psychiatrist and have a conversation about their diagnoses, the medications they are currently taking, the benefits that ketamine treatment could provide, and its risks. Further, it is best if the patient has a current diagnosis and an ongoing treatment plan with a psychologist and/or psychiatrist prior to engaging with a ketamine provider.

The next step is for the patient to reach out to a ketamine clinic and have a consultation with the provider. In this consultation, a similar discussion regarding the patient’s diagnoses, medications, benefits, and risks should occur. In addition, there should be an evaluation on where the patient is in managing their diagnoses – for example, if a patient has treatment resistant depression and is early in their recovery or has not been consistently treated with medications and/or therapy, the recommended ketamine treatment could be different from the recommendations made to a patient who is far into their mental health journey and seeking ketamine for maintenance to relieve their depression.

Second Consideration

Every ketamine clinic will be slightly different based on the experience and background of the provider, and therefore, the treatment options available will vary. States might also have different laws regarding ketamine administration. For example, some states do not allow for prescription of ketamine orally, and any administration must be done in a clinic, which can account for why treatment options and routes of administration might be different from clinic to clinic and state to state. It is important that the patient feel empowered to inquire about what level of experience and background their provider has and to relate that back to their own diagnoses in order to determine whether that clinic is the best fit for treating their condition.

Third Consideration

Ketamine is a treatment and not a cure for pain and mood disorders. Ketamine has about a 70% success rate for treating depression. That success rate could range from a transformative experience to somewhat beneficial but requires additional medication to boost its effects. It is important for patients to recognize that ketamine treatment is a process that takes time and is best paired with other treatments such as therapy. In fact, it is common that patients do not experience relief right away, and there are a host of reasons why the first several treatments might not appear effective, including certain medications blunting uptake, severity of the condition, ketamine dosage, and route of administration. Patients should continue to communicate with their ketamine provider and medical team about how they are feeling (both positive and negative) to ensure that the ketamine treatments can be modified in such a way to get the most benefit. The bottom line is that ketamine treatment will be unique for each patient and clinics are going to all be slightly different depending on the expertise of the provider. Educating oneself prior to committing to treatment will go a long way to ensuring that the treatment is successful.