Who is Not a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy: Understanding the Risks


Keeping sound mental health is very important. For the last decade, we have been facing many challenges to keep our mental well-being, and various potential solutions have evolved, and Ketamine therapy is one of them. It has gained significant limelight in the recent past because it has shown promising potential in improving various medical conditions, including depression, anxiety, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Various scientific research studies are being conducted to determine the therapeutic benefits of Ketamine. It is crucial to understand that it is not meant for everyone. Hence, it cannot become a general therapy. This blog will explore an interesting question: Who is Not a good candidate for Ketamine therapy? Additionally, we will cover.

  • About Ketamine Therapy
  • Potential benefits and side effects
  • What are the dangers
  • Who is a good candidate for Ketamine therapy
  • Interaction of medicines with Ketamine therapy

What is Ketamine Therapy

What is Ketamine Therapy
What is Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine has gained attention because of its potential to positively impact various mental conditions like anxiety, depression, and PTSD. Primarily, it has been used as an anesthetic agent during surgical procedures.

This treatment involves the administration of Ketamine for various therapeutic purposes.

1. How is it Done?

  • In this therapy, the medicine is being administered in a controlled way under a controlled environment under the supervision of a healthcare expert. A psychiatrist or anesthesiologist is best suited for the job.
  • The best way to administer the medicine is by a nasal spray, intravenous infusion, or intramuscular injection.

2. Mechanism

  • The exact mechanism by which Ketamine is used for therapeutic purposes is still unknown. Some of the researchers predict its involvement with the neurotransmitters can be the reason.
  • Ketamine blocks N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, promoting neurotransmitters like glutamate and BDNF.
  • These neurochemical changes are believed to alleviate the symptoms of anxiety and depression. 

3. Duration

  • This therapy is often administered in a series of sessions over time. The frequency and duration are to be determined strictly by a healthcare expert. 
  • The therapy sessions are tailored to the individual needs. This is generally given to patients who have not responded to antidepressants or other standard procedures.

Caution: This article is meant only for educational purposes. We strongly recommend seeking a professional healthcare expert’s guidance before concluding. Always remember that these therapies are not meant for everyone. A doctor can determine if you are a good candidate for this therapy.

Benefits of Ketamine Therapy

Benefits of Ketamine Therapy
Benefits of Ketamine Therapy

There are several mental health benefits associated with Ketamine therapy, which also include reduction of chronic pain. Its therapeutic benefits are still being studied. Below are some known benefits.

1. Rapid Relief 

  • This can be one of the most notable benefits provided by Ketamine therapy. Unlike other antidepressants, the treatment is known to provide a rapid onset of action.
  • Ketamine therapy often leads to improvement within a few hours or days of treatment. Traditional antidepressants can take weeks to months to produce a noticeable effect.

2. Reduction of Suicidal Thoughts

  • Generally, it has been seen that a person suffering from depression often has suicidal thoughts. This therapy can rapidly reduce suicidal ideation.
  • This rapid action is potent as it can reduce self-harm and improve overall safety for individuals going through crises.

3. Chronic Pain

  • Ketamine has analgesic properties. These properties are used to reduce chronic pain, which can include neuropathic pain and complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS).
  • The therapy can provide significant benefits to those individuals who have not responded to other pain management therapies.

4. Improved Cognitive Function

  • According to some scientific research, Ketamine therapy may have neuroprotective effects and can improve cognitive functions. 
  • There is a possibility that these cognitive disorders are present in patients associated with depression.

5. Long Term Remission

  • The duration of benefits from Ketamine therapy may vary with person. It can lead to sustained remission from depression and other mental disorders even after treatment has ended.
  • Long-term remission can reduce the ongoing medication or therapy.

Who is a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy

Who is a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy
Who is a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy

Determining who is a good candidate for Ketamine therapy involves taking care of various things. This is certainly not for everyone. A healthcare expert needs to examine the patient before treatment can start. Knowing about the medical history, current symptoms, and the treatment response are some factors that need to be considered. 

Some other factors can be

1. Treatment Resistance Depression

  • Patients who usually do not respond to the traditional antidepressants can be an ideal candidate for Ketamine therapy.
  • A patient who has treatment-resistant depression (TRD). This means they continue to feel symptoms despite trying many medications and can opt for therapy.

2. Chronic Pain Condition

  • A patient who is suffering from chronic pain conditions like neuropathic pain can be the ideal candidate for Ketamine therapy.
  • The analgesic properties of Ketamine help in subsiding the chronic pain.

3. No Contradictions

  • The ideal candidate for Ketamine therapy should not have any contradictions or any medical condition that can increase the risk of adverse effects.
  • The adverse conditions that we are talking about are uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart conditions, psychosis, and schizophrenia.

4. Medication Tolerance or Resistance

  • This therapy can be prescribed to those patients who have difficulty tolerating or responding to traditional antidepressant medicines or similar treatments.

Also Read: 5 Steps To Improve Your Mental Health

Who is Not a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy

Who is Not a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy
Who is Not a Good Candidate for Ketamine Therapy

As discussed earlier, Ketamine therapy is not for everyone. Below are some factors that can determine if one should avoid taking it. 

1. Uncontrolled High Blood Pressure

  • This therapy is certainly not for people who have preexisting uncontrollable blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Ketamine can exacerbate these situations, and during therapy, patients having these underlying health conditions can feel it.

2. History of Psychosis and Schizophrenia

  • All the patients having a history of psychosis and schizophrenia are not the ideal candidates for Ketamine therapy.
  • Ketamine can exacerbate psychotic symptoms, which can worsen psychiatrist complications.

3. Heart Conditions

  • The patient suffering from coronary artery problems and has a history of heart attacks cannot be the ideal candidate for Ketamine therapy.
  • Ketamine has the potential to spike blood pressure and heart rate, which can worsen cardiac problems.

4. Certain Medical Conditions

People who have severe kidney or liver impairment, glaucoma, or some psychiatric disorders are not the ideal candidates for Ketamine therapy.

Dangers of Ketamine Therapy

Dangers of Ketamine Therapy
Dangers of Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy is proven to be beneficial in treating specific mental disorder which involves anxiety and depression. As discussed earlier, certain conditions must be cleared before opting for the therapy. If not, there are chances one can face the danger of Ketamine therapy, which are.

1. Heart Condition

  • You need to get it checked with a healthcare expert in case you have a preexisting heart condition before taking Ketamine Therapy.
  • Ketamine has the potential to increase the heart rate and can increase blood pressure.
  • It can pose a risk to individuals who have heart conditions like high blood pressure, coronary artery disease, and congestive heart failure.

Threat to Patients with Hypertension

A person who is suffering from uncontrolled blood pressure can have a problem. Blood pressure can spike to dangerous levels due to the stimulatory effects of Ketamine.


  • Getting the opinion of a healthcare expert becomes a compulsion in case the patient has a history of cardiac disorders. 
  • The evaluation done by a healthcare expert can involve a physical examination, medical history review, electrocardiogram (ECG), or echocardiogram.

2. Kidney & Liver

Acute Ketamine administration is considered safe for normal kidney and liver functions. It can adversely affect these organs when used in high dosages or repeatedly.

Damage to Liver

  • The liver is the crucial organ that metabolizes Ketamine. During this, it may undergo different metabolites.
  • Prolonged or heavy use of Ketamine can damage the functioning of the liver as it can cause hepatotoxicity.
  • Individuals with preexisting liver conditions or who consume alcohol have a greater chance of experiencing liver damage due to Ketamine.

Damage to Kidney

  • Ketamine is excreted from the kidney and, with prolonged use of it, can cause a condition named ketamine-induced cystitis.
  • It is a condition that can be classified by inflammation and damage to the bladder and urinary tract.

3. Glaucoma

  • Ketamine can exacerbate glaucoma. It is a condition in which eye nerves can get damaged due to the increased pressure within the eye. 
  • It can elevate intraocular pressure (IOP), increasing the risk of developing glaucoma or permanent vision damage.

4. Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

  • Both pregnancy and breastfeeding are very critical stages in women’s health, and they must be prioritized before taking any therapy. 
  • According to some studies, Ketamine can pose a threat to the fetus or nursing infants.
  • It can be a risky therapy as we do not have precise data that can suggest its impact during pregnancy or nursing.
  • Ketamine crosses the placenta and can reach the fetus, hijacking the neurodevelopment.

Also Read: Lion’s Mane Spiritual Benefits: Science Behind It

Interaction of Medicines with Ketamine Therapy

Interaction of Medicines with Ketamine Therapy
Interaction of Medicines with Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy can interact with some medicines, which can alter the therapeutic outcomes. You and the healthcare expert must notice any significant change or signs of interaction during the therapy. Below are some fundamental interactions one should be aware of.

1. Central Nervous System Depressant

  • If the patient is already on nervous system depressants, then it becomes critical not to go for Ketamine therapy. Make sure your doctor is aware of such medications.
  • Combining medicines like benzodiazepines and opioids with Ketamine can increase the risk of sedation, respiratory depression, and other effects related to the Central Nervous System.

2. Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitors 

  • MAOIs can intensify the effect of Ketamine by preventing its metabolism. This can lead to increased sedation or cardiovascular effects.
  • It can also lead to serotonin syndrome, which is a severe life-threatening condition that can be characterized by rapid heart rate, agitation, confusion, and elevated body temperature. 
  • It should be discontinued before taking Ketamine therapy to minimize the risk of adverse effects.

3. Antihypertensive Medications

  • Ketamine is known to spike blood pressure and heart rate, which can counter the effects of antihypertensive medications.
  • The healthcare expert can regularly monitor the blood pressure and heart rate of patients who are on antihypertensive medications.

Side Effects of Ketamine Therapy

Side Effects of Ketamine Therapy
Side Effects of Ketamine Therapy

Ketamine therapy is known to assist in particular mental health conditions and chronic pain. This therapeutic approach also has several side effects, which one should be aware of. The severity of these side effects may vary from person to person, depending on the response to the treatment. Some of the notable side effects are.

1. Dissociation

  • This can be one of the most common side effects that have been associated with Ketamine therapy. The patient may feel detached from their surroundings or experience an altered perception of reality.
  • Some level of dissociation is expected from Ketamine therapy, but it can be unsettling and distressing for some individuals.

2. Blurred Vision

  • This effect can be temporary. Sometimes, Ketamine can infect visual perception, causing blurred vision.
  • Difficulty in focus can also be associated as one of its side effects. These symptoms will go away once Ketamine wears off.

3. Psychological Changes

There is a possibility of experiencing a change in mood, behavior, or mental status during a Ketamine treatment.

4. Nausea and Vomiting

  • The person may feel nausea and vomiting during or after administration. 
  • This is temporary and goes away with time, but it can bother some individuals.

5. Headache

  • It is expected to experience headaches during Ketamine therapy.
  • The intensity of the headache might vary from minor to intense. It should fade away with time or over a painkiller.

6. Dizziness or Vertigo

  • Patients can feel dizziness or vertigo during the procedure or soon after it. This effect is also temporary and should go away with time.
  • Sitting or lying down during the therapy is advised to minimize the risk of falling.


We started this journey by digging to discover who is not a good candidate for Ketamine therapy. We want to conclude by reminding you that Ketamine therapy is not a magic bullet, and the effects cannot be generalized. We must consult our healthcare advisor to discuss whether we are suitable. Through this study, we can address some critical questions, such as the therapy’s benefits and side effects. Important considerations and interaction with medicines. Communication with your doctor is a necessity. Together, you can explore various other suitable therapies.

Mansi Balodi
Mansi Balodihttps://scriptedsoul.com
My life is always on a run but I try to find time for myself to let my wisdom and knowledge help and guide you. In my blogs, I will try to demystify the complexities of topics and will connect with you with ease of understanding. So let's explore the treasure of the world with words.

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