Ketamine assisted psychotherapy can rapidly relieve symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, anxiety, and other mental health disorders. The majority of eligible patients will have a pleasant experience: some report feelings of gratitude and enlightenment, while others feel a physical weight has been lifted. As with any drug, however, there is the possibility of a negative experience with ketamine. In this article, we will explore how ketamine can be more challenging for some individuals, and how a bad experience can actually turn into a positive one.
Physical Side Effects of Ketamine
Like all drugs, ketamine can have certain physical side effects. These are generally mild and temporary. When taking low dose ketamine, some individuals may experience:
- Tingling/numbness in the extremities
- Sore muscles or cramping
- Hazy memory
- Slurred speech
Again, these side effects should be mild and will generally subside within 24 hours. If you experience severe nausea or another unpleasant physical side effect during your first session, let your provider know immediately. It may be something as easy as changing the time of your session or adjusting the dose.
It is also important that you are physically comfortable before you begin a ketamine assisted psychotherapy session. Make sure you are in a position that allows for proper circulation and that you are not too hot or too cold. Stay well-hydrated to help pre-empt muscle cramps.
Emotional Responses to Ketamine
Ketamine is a dissociative drug, which means it produces a feeling of detachment from the world around you. You may experience a distortion of light and sound, or even see things that aren’t really there. For many, this is where the positive association with ketamine therapy begins. For others, the feeling of being outside one’s body or not being fully in control may cause anxiety.
Furthermore, the self-reflection often associated with ketamine can be undesirable for some. For example:
- Reliving past traumatic experiences
- Recognizing faults within yourself and loved ones
- Revelations about your true feelings regarding a loved one
- Discovering something that scares you about yourself or someone you know
While no one wants to be forced to confront a painful memory or have a disturbing revelation, it is important not to think of such experiences as “negative.” A natural response to a traumatic event is to suppress it. But these are issues that are likely contributing to your ongoing symptoms. Visiting them in a safe space with an experienced mental health professional can help you begin to actually process them.
Psychedelics and the Existential Crisis
As a dissociative anesthetic, ketamine is not a psychedelic. However, it exerts a similar effect, albeit for a much shorter amount of time. One of the hallmarks of a psychedelic experience is having a kind of existential wake-up call. This can also happen while taking ketamine and, again, it is not always pleasant. You may find yourself questioning the cruelty of the world or the nature of life itself. You may perceive otherworldly beings or feel as if you are suspended in time. You may even wonder if you exist at all.
This is why you must establish a relationship with your provider that centers around trust. You may, indeed, begin to doubt your sanity during a ketamine session; but your counselor will offer assistance in any way he or she can to keep you as grounded as possible. Establish a mantra, if necessary, that tethers you. Remember that you are safe and this is temporary.
Most importantly: don’t bear the weight of your newfound revelations alone. Explore and discuss them with friends and family, or even online chat groups that share similar views. You may have unwittingly unlocked a new passion or hobby that can help you even further in your recovery.
Ketamine Therapy in Destin
Ketamine therapy can be a transformative and healing experience for many individuals struggling with mental health issues. However, negative experiences can occur, including physical discomfort, emotional intensity, and existential challenges.
That is why the Crane Center prioritizes a strong foundation of trust and respect when it comes to our patients. Our compassionate providers understand the uniqueness of your mental health journey and can guide you on a path to finally feeling better. We utilize a combination of traditional and alternative therapies, including ketamine, to achieve the best possible outcome for you. If you are struggling with a mental health disorder, call or go online today to schedule an appointment.