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What to Expect After Your First Ketamine Treatment Session

As more people learn about the incredible healing effects of ketamine, there is a growing desire to learn what to expect from the treatment process. Ketamine treatment is unlike many other forms of mental health therapy and uses a unique medication that can amplify your chances of success.

But getting to know the treatment process better can help you make sure you’re making the right choice. Staying informed about the treatments you participate in can help ease any anxiety you have beforehand and ensure you’re getting the right type of care for your specific needs.

History of Ketamine

For decades, ketamine was used in medicine. It first rose to prominence as an anaesthetic medication that medical practitioners used to put patients in a state of unconsciousness for short periods while undergoing surgical procedures.

Highly valued for its quick action, ketamine had a low level of side effects compared to existing medications. However, it began to be phased out of use in favour of newer anaesthetic medications and is currently used far less frequently.

Before ketamine was phased out, medical providers began reporting data that would eventually spark the recent renewed interest in ketamine treatment for mental health. Surgeons noticed that people would awake from anaesthesia with greatly improved mood — even if they had a diagnosis of depression.

These results seemed to last for weeks following the procedures. But just as these findings were beginning to show promise, ketamine fell out of the spotlight.

Using Ketamine as a Mental Health Treatment

Only recently has interest in using ketamine as a mental health treatment been renewed, and the results have been startling. Ketamine can be highly efficacious in the treatment of mental health conditions such as:

  • Depression
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Bipolar disorder

Even more encouraging is the fact that ketamine treatment can work even in cases where people have tried several rounds of traditional treatment without success. For people who have gone through a lengthy cycle of medication and therapy without achieving their recovery goals, ketamine treatment offers renewed hope for recovery.

Ketamine treatment works in two distinct ways. First, the medication alone is believed to help accelerate the process of neuroplasticity and regeneration. Neuroplasticity refers to the brain’s ability to repair itself, make structural changes, and forge new connections between brain cells.

This is highly relevant in mental health treatment, where many disorders are associated with reduced brain function in certain regions. Ketamine helps to kickstart the process of repairing these regions, helping people experience lasting changes in mood and functioning.

But ketamine-assisted healing further amplifies this process by pairing the ketamine experience with specialised therapy protocols. Working directly with a therapist through the ketamine treatment process can aid people in making rapid progress in therapy, provide actionable steps to maintain their progress, and provide professional support throughout their treatment experience.

The Process of Ketamine-Assisted Healing

Ketamine-assisted healing typically follows a simple three-step process. Each stage has a distinct purpose, but all align with helping you reach your treatment goals and start resolving your mental health symptoms.

Consultation and Assessment

Your first step on your ketamine treatment journey is the initial consultation and assessment. This stage provides a space for our treatment providers to identify the exact root of your mental health challenges, deliver an accurate diagnosis, and prepare you for the rest of the treatment process.

While our team works to ensure that you’re getting the right care for your needs, you should feel free to ask any questions you have about the ketamine treatment process. This is your opportunity to learn more about what to expect during and after treatment.

If our team determines that ketamine-assisted healing is the right treatment option for you, the next step is to officially schedule your first ketamine treatment session.

The Ketamine Session

The ketamine session is described by many as a unique experience. Ketamine is a dissociative psychedelic, which means it causes feelings of disconnecting from the sense of self or the body and may lead to some visual and auditory disturbances as well.

The ketamine treatment session begins with our team administering a subanaesthetic dose of ketamine. Typically, this comes in the form of a tablet, a nasal spray, or an IV. It will take about 30 minutes for you to begin experiencing the effects of ketamine, and the main effects last for about two hours.

During this time, you’ll sit with a therapist who will help guide you through the experience. Clients typically wear an eye shade and listen to relaxing music, which can help people delve into the internal experience of ketamine. Your therapist will help you explore your mental health challenges, develop plans to work toward your recovery goals, and will be there to assist if you experience any discomfort in the process.

One incredible aspect of ketamine-assisted healing is that it can help people make breakthroughs in therapy that would take months or years in conventional therapies alone. Ketamine acts as a therapy incubator, helping you break down internal walls and delve deep into your issues.

Follow-Up Treatment

After you’ve completed your first session, our team will follow up with you regularly to track your progress. Though most people experience substantial and lasting reductions after just a single ketamine session, repeated ketamine treatments can solidify the progress you’ve made during treatment.

What to Expect After Your First Session

Now that you have a better understanding of the treatment process, you may still have some lingering questions about what to expect following your first ketamine treatment session. A ketamine experience can often be highly transformative, and it’s completely normal to have a few side effects.

Feeling Inspired

Many people leave their first ketamine session with a feeling of positive inspiration. You may feel encouraged to start a new hobby, learn a new skill, or simply change your behaviour to better align with your treatment goals.

Having the inspiration to make positive change can be fleeting, so we encourage all of our clients to lean into the inspiration they feel after a ketamine treatment session. Above all, your ketamine experience can be a turning point where you decide to change your life for the better once and for all.

Tiredness or Fatigue

The intensive nature of ketamine treatment often leaves people feeling a sense of tiredness or fatigue afterwards. There are two primary reasons for this feeling of fatigue: the effect of the medicine itself and the intensive nature of the therapeutic process.

Even without the additional component of therapy, it is common for people who take ketamine to feel fatigued after the medicine wears off. Ketamine causes a wide range of effects throughout the brain and body, and the experience can be quite taxing.

Additionally, working directly with a therapist can cause a significant drain on your energy reserves. Addressing the underlying causes of mental health disorders requires deep emotional work, and this experience can leave you feeling mentally and physically drained.

The best way to deal with the fatigue following ketamine treatment is to simply take the time to relax. It’s typically recommended to keep your schedule clear following a ketamine treatment session so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by the tasks of day-to-day life.

A Feeling of Introspection

The ketamine experience is highly introspective. Everything at our ketamine-assisted healing centre is designed to help you focus on this introspective element. The feeling of introspection often lingers for hours or even days following your treatment experience.

Introspection is highly relevant to achieving recovery from most mental health conditions. Therapists try to help people recognise how their thoughts influence their behaviour, how their behaviour influences their mood, and how their mood influences their thoughts. Ketamine helps open a window of introspection, which can persist long after the effects of the medicine wear off.

Slight Disorientation

The ketamine experience can often be disorienting, and these effects can linger after you’ve completed your session. Among other effects, ketamine can lead to visual and auditory distortions, as well as a feeling of being outside of your body.

While this disconnection can be highly valuable in the therapeutic process, it is often a completely novel experience for clients. While most of these effects wear off before your session ends, it can be disorienting to have experienced these strange sensations and return to your everyday life.

Most people don’t experience effects that are so severe as to be disruptive, but it’s still recommended that people take it easy after their treatment session. Time after a ketamine treatment experience is typically best spent with close friends and family, at your own home, or in places that are inherently relaxing and comfortable to you.

Integrating the Experience

Ketamine treatment is typically an enlightening, landmark experience. People often leave with a new perspective on their lives, their mental health challenges, and what they need to do to achieve a lasting and worthwhile recovery.

However, recognising these things isn’t the same as putting them into action. Integrating your experience is the final — and potentially the most critical — aspect of maintaining the positive mood benefits and changes you experienced in ketamine treatment.

The process of integration could include:

  • Finding more social connection
  • Being more open and honest with your friends and family
  • Making a concerted effort to look at situations differently
  • Emphasising the things in life that you find most meaningful

This integration process can last for weeks and is a highly beneficial aspect of ketamine-assisted healing. These changes are where the true transformation of ketamine-assisted healing begins and can spark your journey toward lifelong recovery.

Continuing Treatment

As effective as ketamine-assisted healing is, many people will still need additional services or treatments to achieve their goals. This could include participating in treatments such as:

Combining multiple types of treatment into your overall treatment plan will help you reach the results you’ve been hoping for. Seeking out every possible avenue of healing available to you will help you find the path toward healing and recovery that works best for you.

The recovery process is a journey. But you can break free from the grips of mental health challenges, provided you seek out the support of a team of mental health professionals.

Start Treatment at APN London

At APN London, our team uses the best traditional and cutting-edge treatment methods available to help our clients achieve their recovery goals. From talk therapy and ketamine-assisted healing to deep transcranial magnetic stimulation, we offer a wide range of services to cater to every one of our client’s unique needs and circumstances.

To get started with treatment at APN London, call our team today at 0203 984 7699 or fill out our confidential online contact form for more information.


  • Sepulveda Ramos, Carolina et al. “The Therapeutic Effects of Ketamine in Mental Health Disorders: A Narrative Review.” Cureus vol. 14,3 e23647. 30 Mar. 2022, doi:10.7759/cureus.23647
  • Serafini, Gianluca et al. “The role of ketamine in treatment-resistant depression: a systematic review.” Current neuropharmacology vol. 12,5 (2014): 444-61. doi:10.2174/1570159X12666140619204251