Frequently Asked Questions
Psychedelic therapy refers to the therapeutic use of psychedelic molecules like ketamine, psilocybin, LSD, and MDMA. Studies have shown that when taken in a safe environment with therapeutic support, psychedelics can relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety after only a few hours. In psychedelic therapy, the participant must first undergo a medical and psychiatric intake to ensure the experience will be the right option for them. Next, the psychiatric team prepares them for the experience beforehand, discussing what to expect and how to ease their mindset leading up to it.
With ketamine-assisted therapy, on the day of treatment, a medical professional administers the psychedelic intravenously, intramuscularly, or orally while the participant lays down with an eye mask and listens to music. A guide, known as an integrator, provides breathing techniques and reassurance if adverse effects should arise. The dosing session is followed by an integration session to recount their experience, describe their feelings during and after, talk through lingering questions, and glean key insights or takeaways.
To learn more, read A Complete Guide to Psychedelic Therapy.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that elicits psychedelic-like effects. It can be used as an alternative treatment for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mood disorders. At certain doses, similar to traditional psychedelics, ketamine allows one to experience different planes of consciousness.
While ketamine has been used safely since the 1960s for pain and anesthesia, just like any psychoactive medicine, it can be misused, especially at lower doses and in recreational settings. However, when ketamine is administered by a medical professional in a clinical setting with proper education and support, the likelihood of addiction is low.
Read Myths About Ketamine to learn more.
Yes. The total cost can be split into 3 payments.
Nushama does offer financing through Care Credit at the link below:
Currently, our ketamine treatment centers are based in Midtown New York.
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Ketamine is FDA approved as an anesthetic which is why its use for pain treatment can sometimes be covered by insurance. The S-form of ketamine was approved in 2019 to treat depression as a nasal spray called Spravato®. Nushama uses the R-form of ketamine which is legal to prescribe, however it is not FDA approved and considered “off-label”. According to WebMD, over 20% of US prescriptions are for off-label therapies.
There is a lot of mounting evidence that ketamine can be effective in the treatment of many psychiatric conditions, however each person is different and may respond differently. Ketamine treatments are most effective when coupled with any number of therapeutic modalities including traditional psychotherapy, integration coaching, movement modalities, meditation practices, and personal reflection.
See the ketamine section, “WHERE CAN I READ THE RELEVANT STUDIES, TRIALS, AND DATA?”.
Here’s is a list of ketamine-related studies and trials available:
Ketamine for Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Ketamine for Social Anxiety Disorder
Ketamine Administration for Chronic Post-traumatic Stress Disorder
Ketamine Effects on EEG during Therapy of Treatment-Resistant Generalized Anxiety and Social Anxiety
Safety and efficacy of maintenance ketamine treatment in patients with treatment-refractory generalized anxiety and social anxiety disorders
Remission from Chronic Anorexia Nervosa With Ketogenic Diet and Ketamine
Effects of Ketamine in Treatment-Refractory Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial of Ketamine in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Proof-of-Concept
Double-blind, placebo-controlled, dose-ranging trial of intravenous ketamine as adjunctive therapy in treatment-resistant depression
Ketamine Reduces Alcohol Consumption in Hazardous Drinkers by Interfering with the Reconsolidation of Drinking Memories
A sub-set of psychoactive effects may be critical to the behavioral impact of Ketamine on cocaine use disorder
Ketamine psychotherapy for heroin addiction: immediate effects and two-year follow-up
Efficacy of Ketamine in the Treatment of Substance Use Disorders: A Systematic Review
Ketamine infusions for therapeutic use are considered safe when administered in a clinical environment by medical professionals. Participants will be carefully screened to ensure they’re appropriate candidates for the treatment. People are monitored throughout their treatment process for any signs of discomfort, dependence, or increased heart rate. While dissociative or “psychedelic” properties may be experienced, a number of studies show they contribute to the molecule’s antidepressant effects.
There are four ways to administer ketamine for therapeutic use:
At Nushama, we believe IV is the safest and most efficacious method. The dose can be adjusted or stopped at any time if participants become uncomfortable for any reason, which has been extremely rare at our center. Nushama does not offer lozenges or intransal spray, but for group therapy, we use intramuscular injections. Depending on the route of administration, effects are felt within five to ten minutes and last from 45 to 60 minutes.
Ketamine IV for psychedelic therapy is most commonly administered at doses around 0.5 mg/kg over a period of 40 minutes. There is a range of effective doses and evidence for its efficacy at double that amount.
Its range (0.5 – 2 mg/kg) depends on the biology of the person—we start on the lower end and modify the dose based on someone’s response and individual needs.
Read Ketamine Dosing: Low Dose vs. High Dose to learn more.
Side effects of ketamine infusions can include:
- Increase in blood pressure
- Nausea or vomiting (we can add a medication to prevent this from happening)
- A sense of impaired balance and coordination
- A feeling of dizziness, drowsiness, slurred speech, and/or numbing sensation of the skin
These side effects are normal, rarely require any medical intervention, and resolve soon after the infusion ends.
Ketamine, most widely used as an anesthetic, is a breakthrough therapy for treating many mental health disorders. The conditions listed below are either being studied in clinical trials (usually combined with psychotherapy) or soon to be studied.
Ketamine can be used to treat:
- Major depression
- Bipolar 1 depression
- Post-partum depression
- Chronic pain
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Suicidal thoughts
- Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
- Alcohol use disorder
- Opioid use disorder
- Disordered eating
- Anxiety disorder
Although they are both breakthrough therapies being studied to treat a variety of psychiatric conditions, ketamine and psilocybin are very different. Psilocybin is a “classic” psychedelic meaning it works on the 5HT2A serotonin receptors. Ketamine is a “dissociative anesthetic” that can illicit psychedelic-like experiences but it works primarily on the glutamate receptors called NMDA receptors.
These two also have very different legal statuses. Ketamine is a Schedule III drug that is FDA approved for use in pain and anesthesia and is currently a breakthrough therapy for treatment-resistant depression which means it can be used off-label in clinics. Psilocybin is a Schedule I illegal substance that also received breakthrough therapy designation with the FDA but can only be accessed through legal FDA clinical trials at this time.
Preparation for Nushama’s 6-session ketamine program occurs well in advance. We’ll provide you with guidance on how to cultivate a positive mindset, like avoiding news or alcohol, the weeks leading up to your journey.
Our clinicians will also help you set clear intentions and provide guidelines for a safe and meaningful first experience. When preparing, it is important to know that if you do not feel ready at any point, you can let your provider know and we will support you the best we can until you are ready.
If you are experiencing any of the following conditions you will not be able to receive a ketamine infusion:
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure (hypertension)
- Unstable heart disease (arrhythmias, congestive heart failure, chest pain etc.)
- Untreated thyroid disease
- Active substance abuse
- Active manic phase of bipolar disorder
- Active delusions and hallucination symptoms (not on medications or while taking street drugs)
No, you do not need a referral to receive ketamine treatment for mental health conditions. You may come to us directly, and the medical team will review your intake information, conduct a psychiatric evaluation, and confirm that you’re medically fit for treatment before moving forward.
We will, however, ask permission to speak with your therapist or healthcare provider during our screening process. Any licensed mental health care professional or physician can also refer you.
While each person’s experience varies, a psychedelic ketamine journey lasts about 45-60 minutes. You’ll start to feel the effects 10-15 minutes after the ketamine is administered. The peak experience lasts about 30-45 minutes. Most people return to their ordinary level of awareness within 1-2 hours following administration.
Most of the clinical research with ketamine has involved people who receive the treatments twice a week for 3 weeks (6 ketamine sessions total). However, at Nushama we are exploring the potential of fewer sessions with increased support in the form of group sessions, or with wellness protocols throughout the treatment period.
If you are curious about how ketamine’s effects can be increased with supporting modalities, read What is Psychedelic Integration Therapy?
The effects from a psychedelic dose of ketamine are usually felt within 10 to 15 minutes but every person has a slightly different experience. Paticipants may experience:
- Deep relaxation
- Calm sensation
- Heaviness in the body
- Visual patterns and colors
- Separation from usual states of thinking
- Sense of being awake but on a different plane of consciousness
- Separation from the body
- Limited verbal expression
- People, places, or events from their past
Since some of these experiences in an altered state may be novel, they can be frightening or challenging if you are not prepared. Therefore we review the range of possibilities with each person.
Yes. Ketamine does not have negative medication interactions with antidepressants and does not interfere with their effectiveness at the subanesthetic doses used to treat depression and anxiety.
To learn more, read Ketamine vs. SSRIs to Treat Depression
You should not stop any medications without consulting with your perscribing mental health provider. Any modifications to your medication will be discussed during your medical intake before being cleared for treatment.
But, generally, these are some medications that can effect your response to ketamine:
- Stimulants (Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, Vyvanse)
Studies have shown the likelihood of a challenging experience is very low when two conditions are met: a positive mindset going into the experience and a comfortable physical environment. However, even when someone reports having a “bad trip”, with the right integration support afterwards, the insights gleaned from those difficult experiences often end up being some of the most valuable take aways from the treatment. To learn more, read 3 Ways to Mitigate the Risks of Ketamine.
Once the infusion is over, sensations like dizziness fade gradually over the next 20 minutes. You may notice positive effects, like elevated mood, as soon as 30 minutes post ketamine infusion.
Studies have shown that peak antidepressant effects occur about 24-48 hours after treatment and typically last up to two weeks.
Read A Complete Guide to Psychedelic Therapy to learn more.
It’s best to have someone to pick you up after ketamine treatment. If this is not possible, for reasons such as privacy, you will have to take a car service home and show proof of the reservation. You may need to stay longer in the center as you will only be released once you are completely safe to leave.
The importance of a continued theraputic process in conjuction with ketamine cannot be understated. The neuroplasticity effects of ketamine may make you more receptive to tools that maybe haven’t worked before or new tools you’ve never used. The more tools you have to address the ups and downs of life, the longer the effect of ketamine can last.
We recommend our members continue working with their outpatient providers for medication management and/or psychotherapy. If you do not have a psychiatrist or therapist, Nushama can facilitate a referral.
Many people report improvement in symptoms for 3-12 weeks, however this range depends on many factors and can last even longer depending on how much you are willing to participate in developing new ways of living.
One of the best ways to prolong the effect of ketamine is to learn and apply new tools for dealing with the stressors that come as a normal part of life.
Every person is different, and ketamine is very much a personalized medicine—dosing, frequency, and effect can all vary and require an individualized approach. The need to return after the 6 sessions depends on whether or not symptoms return.
However, for some people, even when symptoms return, they are much less intense, which makes them manageable with the new skills they have learned during the treatments.