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Infusion vs Nasal Spray Ketamine: A Comparative Analysis

Key Takeaways

  • Ketamine is a promising treatment for mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, particularly those resistant to traditional therapies.
  • Ketamine can be administered intravenously by a doctor, or self-administered with a nasal spray under medical supervision.
  • The infusion method may provide faster and more potent relief, but it requires a clinical setting and close monitoring.
  • Nasal spray ketamine offers more convenience but may not be as immediately effective or potent.

Woman is using a nasal spray

Ketamine’s Role in Mental Health Treatment

Mental health is a journey—and when you’re on a journey, the road sometimes gets tough. When traditional treatments don’t seem to help, it’s time to turn to the alternative: ketamine. Known for its fast results, ketamine can be the breakthrough for those with stubborn mental health conditions.

What is Ketamine and How Does it Help?

Originally used as an anesthetic, ketamine is now making waves in mental health for its ability to quickly alleviate symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD. In short, it influences neurotransmitters in the brain to reboot and refresh neural connections.

Ketamine’s Different Forms: Infusion vs. Nasal Spray

Ketamine can be administered in two forms: infusion and nasal spray. Each method has its pros and cons—here’s what you need to know:

  • Ketamine Infusion: If you’re looking for a direct line to relief, this is it—ketamine will be delivered straight into your bloodstream. The effects are fast and potent, but since it’s an infusion, it needs to be done in a specialized setting with a team of medical professionals.
  • Ketamine Nasal Spray: On the other hand, nasal spray ketamine, such as Spravato, can be self-administered under the watchful eyes of healthcare providers at approved facilities. More accessible, but the effects may not be as immediate. 

Ketamine Infusion Therapy: How Does it Work?

hanging on stainless steel IV stand

This process can take about 40 minutes to an hour, during which you might feel a range of sensations, from relaxation to a disconnection from your usual thought patterns.

The process is quite straightforward: you visit a clinic, and under medical supervision, ketamine is infused into your bloodstream. The drug is rapidly available to your brain, often leading to quick symptom relief. It’s an outpatient procedure, so you get to go home the same day, although you’ll need someone to drive you.

Advantages of Ketamine Infusion Over Other Methods

Because the ketamine bypasses the digestive system and liver, it’s not broken down as quickly, which can lead to a more powerful impact. Many patients report feeling improvements in their mood and outlook within hours or days—which doesn’t happen with traditional antidepressants.

In a study published in Biological Psychiatry, participants with depression displayed significant improvement in their depressive symptoms within 72 hours following IV ketamine administration compared with placebo infusion.

Considerations and Potential Side Effects of Infusion

While the benefits are notable, you should know that ketamine infusion therapy isn’t a one-and-done deal. It usually involves a series of treatments and, like any medical procedure, comes with potential side effects, like nausea or disorientation. But don’t worry, these effects are typically short-lived and can be managed by your treatment team.

It also comes down to your personal preference. Whether you’re leaning towards infusion therapy or the nasal spray, it’s about finding what works for you. And with the guidance of professionals, you’re not alone on this path.

Nasal Spray Ketamine: How Does it Help?

When you use the nasal spray, ketamine is absorbed through the mucous membranes in your nose and then enters your bloodstream. It’s less invasive than an IV and can be administered with ease at a certified clinics. The nasal spray, known as Spravato, contains esketamine—a form of ketamine that can jumpstart your brain’s healing process.

The Perks of Nasal Spray Treatment

  • Non-invasive: For those who are scared of needles or want to avoid invasive procedures when possible, the nasal spray is the perfect alternative.
  • Accessibility: You don’t need to go to a clinic—but you will still need a medical professional.
  • FDA-Approved: Unlike ketamine infusions, the nasal spray is FDA-approved for the treatment of depression. 

Limitations and Side Effects of Nasal Spray Administration

Of course, the nasal spray method isn’t without its drawbacks. The bioavailability of ketamine—the proportion that enters the circulation when introduced into the body—may be lower than with an infusion. So it might not be as effective.  

Some nasal discomfort or an unpleasant taste in the mouth are also possible. 

Infusion vs. Nasal Spray: Side-by-Side Comparison

AspectKetamine InfusionNasal Spray Ketamine
AdministrationIV in a clinical settingNasal spray in a clinical setting
Onset of EffectsRapid, often within hoursMay take longer, varies per individual
Duration of Treatment40 minutes to an hour per sessionQuick administration, with observation period
Frequency of TreatmentsSeries of treatments over several weeksTypically twice a week for the first month
PotencyHigh, due to direct bloodstream entryMay be lower due to absorption variability
Side EffectsNausea, disorientation, elevated blood pressureNasal discomfort, unpleasant taste, dizziness
FDA ApprovalNot FDA-approved for the treatment of depressionIs FDA-approved for the treatment of depression
CostHigher cost since a single ketamine infusion session can be around $450 to $500Lower cost where a single nasal spray is around $50 to $100

Efficacy and Speed of Relief

When it comes to the effectiveness and how quickly you can feel better, infusions generally take the lead. Because the ketamine is delivered directly into your bloodstream, it can start working much faster. Nasal spray, while still effective, may have a more gradual onset of action and is also safer.

Accessibility and Convenience of Treatment

Nasal spray ketamine scores high on accessibility and convenience. It’s easier to administer and doesn’t require as much equipment or preparation as an infusion. This can make it more widely available to patients who might not have easy access to clinics that offer infusions.

Cost Analysis: Affordability of Infusion vs. Nasal Spray

Ketamine infusions can be pricey (ranging around  $450 to $500 for a single session), often not covered by insurance, and require multiple sessions. Ketamine nasal sprays are considerably cheaper at around $50 to $100 and are sometimes covered by insurance, especially since Spravato was FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression.

Patient Experience: Comfort and Preference

Ultimately, your comfort and preference play a crucial role in your treatment choice. Some prefer the quick, potent effects of infusions, while others favor the ease of the nasal spray. 

woman wearing gray jacket

Discussing your options with a healthcare provider can help you decide which method aligns best with your needs and lifestyle.

Choosing the Right Ketamine for You 

While you should consider differences in administration, speed of relief, cost, and personal comfort, it is equally important to consult with a healthcare provider.

At HealingUS Communities, we’re committed to guiding you through these decisions. We understand the complexities of mental health and the courage it takes to seek help. Contact us today to learn more about ketamine nasal spray treatment. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Is Ketamine Treatment Safe for Everyone?

Ketamine treatment is generally safe when administered by medical professionals in a controlled setting. However, it’s not suitable for everyone. Your healthcare provider will assess your medical history, current health status, and any potential risks before recommending ketamine therapy.

How Quickly Does Ketamine Infusion Work Compared to Nasal Spray?

Ketamine infusion often provides relief within hours of treatment, while the nasal spray can take longer to take effect, with some individuals noticing improvements within a few days to a week.

Can Ketamine Treatments Be Covered by Insurance?

Insurance coverage for ketamine treatments varies. Infusions are often not covered, but since the FDA has approved Spravato (esketamine nasal spray) for treatment-resistant depression, it’s more likely to be covered by insurance plans.

How Do I Know if Ketamine Treatment Is Right for Me?

If you’re struggling with treatment-resistant depression or other mental health conditions and haven’t found relief from traditional therapies, ketamine treatment might be an option. Discuss with your healthcare provider to determine if it’s suitable for you.

What Are the Long-Term Effects of Ketamine Treatments?

Long-term effects of ketamine treatments are still being studied. While some patients may experience lasting benefits, others might require ongoing treatment. Your healthcare provider will monitor your progress and adjust your treatment plan as needed.