How Does Ketamine Treatment for Depression Work?

ketamine treatment for depression

How Does Ketamine Treatment for Depression Work?

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic drug, which means it can produce sedative and hallucinogenic effects. While ketamine was originally used on animals for its sedative properties, it has been approved for use in humans to treat a wide variety of mental health conditions like anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and depression. 

While ketamine is often abused recreationally, it can be effective in treating depression when used in small doses. Ketamine treatment for depression helps reduce symptoms by repairing neurons in the prefrontal cortex of the brain, improving mood, and lowering stress.[1]

If you are considering participating in ketamine treatment for depression, understanding how it works can be helpful. Typically, your first ketamine treatment will involve an assessment, followed by an infusion and some aftercare. Then, you will receive between three to six more infusions throughout your treatment depending on your needs.

Who is Ketamine Treatment for Depression Intended For?

Ketamine treatment for depression is usually only available to individuals who have tried other methods of treatment such as therapy and various medications without success. It is intended for people who have treatment-resistant depression

Ketamine treatment may be a good fit for you if:

  • You have not responded well to conventional treatments for depression 
  • You do not have other medical conditions like seizures, substance abuse, or liver and kidney problems 
  • You are not currently taking any medications that interact with ketamine 

You can experience side effects from receiving ketamine treatment, which may include symptoms like dissociation, temporary increases in blood pressure, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. Your doctor will work with you to determine if the benefits of ketamine outweigh your side effects. 

How Does Ketamine Treatment for Depression Work?

Ketamine treatment can be administered in two different ways, including an IV infusion or an intranasal spray. With that being said, most people receiving ketamine treatment for depression receive the infusions. Typically, people will receive three to six ketamine infusions over some time depending on their needs and how they are responding to the treatment. 

If you are nervous about your first ketamine appointment, understanding how it works can relieve any anxieties you are facing. 

While each provider’s approach may vary, here is what you can expect for your first ketamine treatment session.

Initial Assessment 

During your first session, you will be asked a series of questions about the current symptoms you are experiencing, your previous medical history, and your goals for recovery. This information will be used to create a treatment plan and gain a better understanding of what symptoms you were experiencing initially, as this will help your doctor track your progress.

First Infusion 

During your first infusion, your doctor will set up your IV while you are seated in a comfortable chair. Once the infusion begins, your pulse, oxygen levels, and blood pressure will be monitored to ensure you are tolerating the ketamine well. 

You might begin feeling effects that are either pleasurable or cause you to dissociate slightly. This means the ketamine is beginning to work, slowly reducing the symptoms of your depression. Some people report feeling nauseous during their first ketamine infusion which can be addressed with an anti-nausea pill.

After Treatment 

After the infusion is completed you will be asked to remain in the room for 30 to 45 minutes to ensure that all of the effects have worn off before you are allowed to leave. While most effects will wear off, it is recommended that you do not drive yourself home, making it important that you ask a family member or friend to take you to your appointments.

Typically, it takes a few sessions to see a considerable difference in your depression. However, many people report that severe symptoms of depression like suicidal thoughts subside after only one infusion, making ketamine an extremely effective option. 

What are the Benefits of Ketamine for Depression?

Ketamine treatment for depression can be highly beneficial, as a study published in the National Library of Medicine (NLM) reports that one single dose of ketamine has a rapid action of onset on depressive symptoms and remission after only one week of treatment.[2]

Ketamine can provide relief from depression rather quickly. Additionally, these treatments sometimes result in remission, meaning you may not have to continue taking medication long-term to manage your depression. 

The main benefits of ketamine for depression include:

  • Quick relief from major symptoms of depression
  • Short-term treatment with long-term results 
  • Lowered risk of suicidal thoughts 
  • Improvement in other types of mental health conditions like anxiety or PTSD
  • Targets different receptors in the brain than SSRI medications, making it a good option for people who have not found success in traditional depression medications

Ketamine treatment may not be right for everyone, so it’s essential to consult with a licensed healthcare provider before starting ketamine.

Get Connected to a Highly-Rated Depression Treatment Program

If you or a loved one suffers from a depressive disorder, it’s time to seek professional help. Comprehensive depression treatment programs like Florida Recovery Group can provide you with the tools and skills you need to manage your condition long-term. 

At Florida Recovery Group, we offer a separate mental health program specifically for adults 18 and older who suffer from emotional and psychiatric health issues. Our team of mental health therapists and medical professionals will evaluate, diagnose, and treat the root cause with compassion and empathy.

To learn more about our top-rated depression treatment center, contact us today. 


  1. The National Institutes of Health (NIH): How ketamine relieves symptoms of depression, Retrieved December 2023 From
  2. The National Library of Medicine (NLM): Efficacy of ketamine therapy in the treatment of depression, Retrieved December 2023 From