Ketamine was first introduced into clinical practice in the 1960s. It is a dissociative anesthetic commonly used in medical settings for its soothing and pain-relieving results. This article will provide a detailed overview of the medical uses, associated risks, and effects of ketamine.

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a powerful medication primarily used as an anesthetic in various surgical procedures. Recently, it has become popular in the health industry for its potential therapeutic effects in treating depression and other mental health conditions when used in controlled settings. However, it is crucial to understand that the recreational use of ketamine can ultimately lead to significant health risks.

How Is It Used?

Ketamine can be ingested through various means. These include swallowing, snorting, or injection. Also, some individuals combine it with cannabis or tobacco and smoke it. When ketamine is injected, its effects can be felt within a minute, while snorting may take 5-15 minutes, and swallowing may take up to 30 minutes. The impact of ketamine typically lasts for about an hour. However, an individual’s coordination or senses may be affected for up to 24 hours after initial use.

Medical Uses of Ketamine

Ketamine as an Anesthetic in Surgery

Ketamine’s exceptional anesthetic properties make it a vital tool in surgical procedures. Its ability to induce unconsciousness and relieve pain has made it a preferred choice for minor and major surgeries. Unlike other anesthetics, ketamine maintains cardiovascular stability. As a result, it assists surgeons in operating on patients with certain medical conditions. These conditions include compromised heart function or low blood pressure.

Ketamine for Treatment-Resistant Depression

In recent years, ketamine has emerged as a promising treatment option for individuals battling treatment-resistant depression. Traditional antidepressant medications often take weeks or even months to show significant effects. As a result, patients endure prolonged suffering. However, ketamine can provide rapid antidepressant effects, sometimes within hours of the therapy.

Ketamine as an Analgesic for Chronic Pain

Chronic pain is one of the most popular medical conditions affecting millions worldwide. Traditional pain management approaches often fail to provide immediate relief. On the other hand, ketamine therapy alleviates chronic pain immediately.

Ketamine for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that affects people who have experienced traumatic events. Those with PTSD usually experience intrusive thoughts, nightmares, flashbacks, and emotional distress. All the effects can significantly impact their daily lives. Ketamine therapy can effectively treat PTSD, offering new possibilities for healing and recovery.

Associated Risks of Ketamine

Ketamine is an efficient anesthetic drug to treat mental health conditions. However, there are various associated risks, including:

  • Psychological effects: It can cause hallucinations, disorientation, confusion, and changes in perception. These effects can lead to psychological distress or panic reactions.
  • Physical side effects: Ketamine can cause increased heart rate, dizziness, high blood pressure, nausea, and vomiting. It may also affect the coordination of individuals.
  • Dependency and addiction: Regular or excessive use of ketamine can lead to tolerance, dependence, and addiction. Withdrawal symptoms may occur upon cessation of use. They may include anxiety, cravings, mood swings, and insomnia.
  • Cognitive impairments: Prolonged or heavy ketamine use may result in cognitive deficits. They include memory problems and decreased problem-solving abilities.
  • Bladder and urinary problems: Frequent and long-term use of ketamine can lead to a condition known as ketamine-induced cystitis. Some people may experience urinary urgency, pain, and bladder inflammation. In severe cases, it can lead to bladder damage and incontinence.
  • Respiratory depression: High doses of ketamine can cause respiratory depression. It will ultimately lead to breathing difficulties, oxygen deprivation, and even respiratory arrest.
  • Interaction with other substances: Combining ketamine with other substances, particularly alcohol, is dangerous. It may result in excessive sedation, respiratory depression, and an increased risk of accidents.

Minimize the Risks

Take the following preventive measures to minimize the potential risks associated with ketamine:

  • The effects of ketamine may vary based on factors like weight, tolerance, and metabolism. Start with a lower dosage to understand how it will affect you.
  • Avoid combining ketamine with other substances, particularly alcohol.
  • Ensure the drug is finely crushed to prevent cuts.
  • Use your own straw or spoon to avoid infections.
  • Take breaks to allow your nose to recover from repeated snorting, which can cause damage.
  • Reduce the risk of infection by snorting water before and after ketamine use.
  • After using this drug, avoid activities such as driving or swimming since ketamine impairs reflexes and coordination.
  • Assess your mood and environment before using ketamine.
  • Consider having a responsible person sitting with you while you are using ketamine. Ensure that he can assist you if needed.

Common Effects of Ketamine

Some of the most common effects of ketamine include:

  • Ketamine can provide potent pain relief. It will make it a useful tool in surgical and other medical procedures.
  • It can cause sedation and cause a dream-like state.
  • Ketamine can trigger a feeling of detachment from one’s body or surroundings. This condition is known as dissociation. This effect can be desirable in specific therapeutic contexts, such as for treating depression or PTSD.
  • It can cause visual, auditory, and other sensory hallucinations, which can be intense and realistic.
  • Ketamine can cause cognitive impairment, including memory, attention, and learning difficulties.
  • Ketamine can alter sensory perception, resulting in changes in visual, auditory, and tactile sensations.
  • It may lead to anxiety, panic, and violence.


Is Ketamine Therapy safe?

Ketamine therapy, when performed under medical supervision, is generally considered safe. However, like any other medical treatment, it carries potential risks and side effects. It is crucial to consult with a qualified healthcare professional to assess individual suitability and ensure appropriate monitoring during ketamine treatment.

What Happens After Ketamine Therapy?

After a ketamine treatment, the effects can vary from person to person. Some people may experience immediate relief from symptoms, while others may take months. Following up with your healthcare provider to discuss your ongoing treatment plans and potential side effects is essential.