The landscape of mental healthcare treatment is vast. Pharmaceutical drugs, the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), yoga, talk therapy…. The list goes on.
The idea of researching available treatments can be daunting. And deciding where to start your healing journey – or what to add to it – takes time and serious consideration. That’s where Stella comes in.
In this article, we explain what Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella is, which conditions it can treat, and how it can fit into your healing journey.
The History of Ketamine
How It Started
In 1966, researchers published the first study about using ketamine as an anesthetic, noting that it provides “excellent analgesia” (or inability to feel pain). By 1970, the FDA approved the use of ketamine as an anesthetic. And in 1985, the World Health Organization added ketamine to its Essentials Medicines list.
Researchers Find a New Use For Ketamine
In the early 1990s, researchers at Yale noted that when treated with pediatric anesthetic ketamine, chronically depressed patients experience “almost immediate – if transitory – relief from [their] symptoms.” This observation sparked researchers’ curiosity about ketamine’s potential to help the tens of millions of people who struggle with depression and other mental health conditions, like anxiety and PTSD.
In a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Psychology, researchers celebrated ketamine as “one of the most important breakthroughs in antidepressant treatment in decades.”
Multiple randomized clinical studies find that ketamine infusions can effectively treat major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression with a success rate as high as 80%. Patients with suicidal thoughts respond particularly well to ketamine – over 80% report that their suicidal thoughts stop completely after the first infusion.
How Ketamine Infusion Therapy Works
Ketamine can enter the body in a few ways: intravenously, intramuscularly, intranasally, sublingually (under the tongue), or orally (by mouth). Stella only administers ketamine intravenously, which is the most common method.
The amount of ketamine used in Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella is much lower than what anesthesiologists administer before surgery.
How Does Ketamine Affect the Brain?
Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist that interacts with some of the brain’s neurotransmitters. When ketamine binds to those receptors, it increases the amount of glutamate between neurons. Glutamate then activates connections in the AMPA receptor. When NMDA receptors are blocked and AMPA receptors are activated, synaptogenesis occurs. Synaptogenesis is the process of neurons communicating with each other along new pathways, which can affect mood, thought patterns, and cognition.
Ketamine causes nerve growth throughout the brain which can lead to long-lasting symptom improvement, even after the drug is no longer in your system.
What Is the Infusion Session Like?
At the beginning, you might not notice any changes. As the session progresses, you may feel lighter or like you’re floating. Some patients describe this sensation as “a weight being lifted” off their shoulders. Other patients experience a dream-like state or calmness. It’s also possible to have visions of colors and shapes. These types of out-of-body experiences are why ketamine is sometimes categorized as a psychedelic drug.
Generally, 15 minutes after completing the infusion, patients start to regain their senses and their thinking returns to normal.
How Long Does It Last?
The positive effects of a single ketamine infusion can last for up to two weeks. After a series of six infusions, many Stella patients are symptom-free for several months or longer.
The Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Ketamine caused a paradigm shift in the treatment of major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression. Many pharmaceutical drugs take weeks to work – if they work at all – whereas ketamine can work within hours of the first infusion. For some patients, it takes multiple infusions to experience relief. In either case, Ketamine Infusion Therapy often yields a successful result before traditional treatments – think pharmaceutical drugs or talk therapy – do.
This is incredibly encouraging because when someone is struggling with depression, they may benefit from a treatment with a fast positive response. For this reason, ketamine can be an extremely valuable tool in preventing suicide and alleviating major depressive disorder.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella is administered by highly-trained medical personnel who work under the direction of a Board Certified physician. They deliver the ketamine intravenously very slowly over 45 minutes. During the session, medical personnel will closely monitor your vital signs and adjust the dose as necessary. They are also prepared to manage unpleasant side effects like nausea.
There Are Minimal Side Effects
Side effects of Ketamine Infusion Therapy include mild drowsiness, nausea, and increased blood pressure, and they usually only last an hour or two.
Less common side effects include vivid dreams and agitation. These can be controlled by adjusting the dose during the infusion session.
There is no evidence that ketamine is habit-forming or addictive when administered intravenously at low doses and frequencies to treat depression. In fact, research suggests that ketamine can help people overcome addictions.
Please note that a history of substance-use issues will not exclude you from participating in Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella. However, it is important to disclose this information to our Care Team before treatment.
It’s Customized To You
Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella includes six infusion sessions. To maximize the positive effects of treatment, patients typically space their infusions out over a two-to three-week period.
The total number of infusions and need for maintenance infusions varies from person to person. Stella’s Care Team will work with you to create a plan that’s practical and most likely to yield a successful result.
Most of Stella’s treatment locations let you bring your own music so you can set the tone of your infusion sessions. Many locations also allow a family member or friend to accompany you so you feel comfortable and supported during treatment.
Adding Ketamine Infusion Therapy To Your Existing Care Plan
To help you achieve the best possible outcome, Stella combines cutting-edge biological and psychological interventions.
Our team understands that there are many paths to healing. Ketamine Infusion Therapy can compliment the work you’re already doing and it’s a great first step.
The Stellate Ganglion Block
Treatment by Stella is based on the symptoms that you self-report in our short quiz. Our quiz gauges the post-traumatic stress (PTS) and/ or depressive symptoms you may be experiencing. Our Care Team will determine if you might benefit from the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), Ketamine Infusion Therapy, or a combination of the two.
People with moderate PTS and moderate depressive symptoms may be good candidates for both SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy. Our Care Team is prepared to discuss your treatment options with you and will provide the information you need to make an informed decision.
A month and a half after one of our patients had SGB and five ketamine infusions, they said that they felt like they got their life back:
“These treatments allowed me to see that my trauma and the abuses were nothing but mere memories. Those fleeting things. Mere floaties, as opposed to hard truths about life and myself. I am able to connect to myself in a way that is incredibly healing! I am alive and healing at incredible speed!”
Other Therapies and Treatments
Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella can accelerate the impact of other therapies and treatments, such as talk therapy, pharmaceutical drugs, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and more. Many of our patients find that after their infusion sessions they can more easily incorporate takeaways from therapy because they are less focused on their symptoms.
One of our patients reflected on the progress they made after Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella:
“I got six infusions in seven days. The infusions had a huge impact on my trauma and the way my brain was holding on to the moments in my past. The traumatic events were as old as 30 years. The infusions made me feel as if I was the only thing that exists on earth, which is extremely peaceful. My rumination on past events went away, and I was extremely calm and happy. During some of the infusions I felt as if I was dying. The feeling of dying helped me kill the pain that was inside, rather than me wanting to commit suicide. I battled with suicidal ideations for over 30 years with over 20 years of psychological therapy. I made more progress during one infusion than I had in 20 years of therapy and 90 days in inpatient rehabilitation. Ketamine infusions would have given me my childhood and adulthood back, rather than living with a horror film inside of me.”
What Does Ketamine Infusion Therapy Cost?
Our package of six ketamine infusions starts at $3,899. Please note that the price of Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella varies by location.
Although ketamine can be legally prescribed and administered to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, ketamine infusions are not currently covered by healthcare insurance companies for this use. Today, ketamine is only covered by insurance as an anesthetic.
To help make Ketamine Infusion Therapy accessible, Stella accepts payment through HSA and FSA accounts. We also offer two financing options: a 24-month plan through CareCredit and an in-house plan for those who qualify.
If you want to learn why Ketamine Infusion Therapy isn’t covered by insurance and how we set our prices, read Stella’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Michael Gershenzon’s article on Cost, Care, and the Need for Transparency.
Connect With Stella’s Care Team
Stella has helped thousands of people find lasting relief from symptoms related to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and stress. To determine if you’re a good fit for Treatment by Stella, start by taking our brief quiz. You can also reach our Care Team at 312-448-6502 or firstname.lastname@example.org.