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Answers to commonly asked questions about ketamine infusions for depression & chronic pain.


Many people have questions about ketamine infusions. Here are answers to some common questions about ketamine infusions for the treatment of depression and chronic pain. If this information fails to answer your questions about ketamine, please don’t hesitate to contact us!

Are ketamine infusions safe?

This is often the first questions we get asked, and for good reason. The short answer is yes, ketamine is safe. To elaborate, ketamine has been in use since the 1970s when it was approved by the FDA as an anesthetic and analgesic medication. Ketamine is considered an essential medication by the World Health Organization, and is still used regularly for acute pain management in emergency situations. More recently—in the late 1990s—the antidepressant benefits of ketamine were discovered. Since then, all research has indicated that ketamine for depression is very safe, with very few side effects. Visit our Resources page for more information about ketamine research.

What conditions does ketamine treat?

Ketamine is effective for the treatment of a number of psychiatric conditions, including severe depression, treatment-resistant depression, suicidality, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder and postpartum depression.

Ketamine is also effective for chronic pain management, especially those suffering from chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), migraine headaches, rheumatoid and other types of arthritis, diabetic nerve pain, phantom limb pain, and more.

Will ketamine work for me?

Ketamine is effective for up to 70% of patients. While we can’t say whether or not ketamine will definitely work for you—each patient is different—the odds are in your favor.

Ketamine is unlike other antidepressants that take 4-6 weeks to start working. Within 1-2 ketamine infusions, you will know if ketamine is effective for you. Some patients notice an improvement in their symptoms within hours after their first infusion!

How many ketamine infusions will I need?

Every patient is different, however, for both psychiatric and chronic pain conditions, we recommend an initial series of 4-6 infusions over a 2-week period. Studies have shown that serial infusions in a short timeframe is the most effective treatment protocol. 

After the initial series of infusions, some patients will need maintenance infusions a monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, bi-annual or annual basis. Every patient will have a different need for maintenance infusions, and some patients find that they never need to receive a ketamine infusion again!

Is ketamine addictive?

Contrary to what you may have heard, ketamine is not a physically addictive substance. Ketamine—like many other useful drugs—can be abused for a recreational “high” if it makes its way into the wrong hands. However, even though the drug can be abused, it is a non-addictive substance. Furthermore, for the treatment of chronic pain or psychiatric conditions, ketamine is administered in doses much lower than what would be needed to get “high.”

Our Modesto, CA ketamine clinic is careful to ensure that ketamine is administered only under clinical supervision in our office environment. It is not sent home as a prescription drug, thereby minimizing the risk of abuse.

Can I continue taking my other medications?

Never stop taking your depression or pain medications without the explicit instruction of your physician. Prior to your first infusion, we will review your list of medications to ensure there are no contraindications between ketamine and your prescriptions. Ketamine for depression is often most effective when used in conjunction with antidepressants or psychotherapy.

How does ketamine work?

Ketamine infusions don’t work the way that traditional antidepressant and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) do. Rather than increasing serotonin levels in the brain, ketamine works on the glutamate system. By binding to NMDA receptors in the brain, ketamine increases the production of glutamate which helps reactivate other neurotransmitters, ultimately resulting in the development of new, healthy neural pathways in the brain.

How effective is ketamine?

For the treatment of depression, anxiety, and other psychiatric disorders, ketamine is arguably the most effective depression treatment available today. Where traditional antidepressants are effective about 40% of the time, ketamine infusions are effective up to 70% of the time—even for severe treatment-resistant cases.

For chronic pain, a similarly impressive percentage of patients experience relief…sometimes for as long as 11-months after their initial series of infusions.

How long does it take for ketamine to start working?

Ketamine is not like SSRIs and other traditional antidepressants that can take weeks or months to start working. Ketamine starts working immediately, with most patients noticing an improvement in their mood within 1-2 infusions…and some in as little as 1-2 hours!

How do I get started with ketamine infusions?

The first step in getting started with ketamine infusions at VIP Ketamine Clinics in Modesto, CA is to request a free consultation.

During your free phone consultation, we’ll review your symptoms and diagnoses, and discuss the treatments you’ve tried in the past. If we determine that you are a candidate for ketamine infusions, we will have you and your primary or mental health care provider complete your patient intake forms.

Once your intake forms are submitted, we will schedule an in-office consultation and your first ketamine infusion.

Do not eat or drink pulpy juices for 6-hours prior to your first ketamine infusions. Please arrive to your appointment 15-minutes early.

Once in the treatment room, we will apply monitors, set your IV, and begin your infusion. You may feel a cooling sensation. You will remain awake and alert, though most patients choose to relax and listen to music rather than converse with friends or family members. You may feel light dizziness, nausea, or experience mild, non-threatening hallucinations. If you experience nausea, we are equipped to administer an anti-nausea medication via IV. The infusion will last about 40 minutes, though ketamine infusions for chronic pain may last as long as 3-4 hours. We will monitor you for 30-minutes post-infusion before releasing you to the care of a friend or family member. We ask that you don’t drive or operate heavy machinery for 24-hours after your ketamine infusion.

Most side effects are mild, and wear off within 2-hours of an infusion.

Is ketamine the same as Spravato™?

Ketamine is a generic drug that has been available since the 1970s. Spravato™ is a new drug, which is the chemical isomer of ketamine. While ketamine is administered via IV for maximum efficacy, Spravato™ is administered as a nasal spray. While both drugs are more effective than traditional antidepressants for the treatment of depression, IV ketamine is still the gold standard for depression treatment and chronic pain management. Because ketamine is administered via IV, 100% of the medication reaches the brain, making it more bioavailable than a spray administered intranasally. 


VIP Ketamine Clinics is happy to extend an offer for a free consultation to all new patients. Whether you have questions about how ketamine works, or are wondering if you are a candidate for ketamine treatment, we are here to answer your questions, address your concerns, and help you find hope in what may feel like a hopeless situation.