Ketamine Therapy Timeline: How Long Should You Wait for Relief?


You’ve made the decision to begin ketamine therapy but how long does it take to begin seeing the results you are seeking?


Living with depression, anxiety, PTSD and other mood disorders can feel like an endless battle. Each day is a struggle. For individuals who have tried various treatments without success, ketamine infusion therapy offers a promising new alternative. However, one of the most common questions among those considering this treatment is, “How long should it take for ketamine infusions to help me?” In this blog, we’ll explore the timeline and factors impacting the effectiveness of ketamine infusions in alleviating unwanted symptoms.

Understanding Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Ketamine is an anesthetic medication that has been gaining attention for its rapid and often remarkable antidepressant effects. When administered through a carefully monitored and controlled infusion, ketamine can provide relief to individuals. Even persons who have not responded to traditional treatments like therapy and antidepressant medications can experience relief. The exact mechanisms behind ketamine’s efficacy in treating depression are still being studied. But it’s believed to involve the modulation of glutamate, a neurotransmitter in the brain. Most clinics use a primary series of infusions. Additionally, dating back to the seminal studies in 2000, a series of six infusions are typically suggested. Ongoing maintenance infusions may be required on a less frequent basis.

The Ketamine Infusion Timeline

The First Two Sessions:

After your first ketamine infusion, you might not experience significant changes in your symptoms. Some individuals report feeling a slight mood lift shortly after their first session, but this effect is often short-lived. Those that respond well may have a few days of positive effects but for most, that is the best case. It’s crucial to remember that ketamine therapy is not a quick fix, but rather a process that takes time. Initial results can vary widely from person to person. Many report a more obvious effect after the second infusion but for some the results are still fairly mild at this point.

Infusions Three & Four:

The effects of ketamine infusions tend to become more noticeable as you progress through the treatment regimen. By the third or fourth infusion, most patients start to experience more obvious and sustained improvements in their mood, energy levels, and overall outlook on life. It’s not uncommon for individuals to have moments of clarity and relief during this phase. If you haven’t felt any clear benefit at this stage, then you may be in a minority that don’t respond well to treatment. It is a good time to reassess the treatment overall before continuing with more infusions. It is still possible you will still find substantial benefits if you continue. But your chances of success are likely diminished.

Infusions Five & Six:

For most people, the full benefits of ketamine infusion therapy become apparent after completing the full series of treatments. This is often around the fifth or sixth infusion, but it can vary depending on factors like the severity of your condition, your unique brain chemistry, and the dosage administered. It’s essential to complete the recommended series of sessions to maximize the potential benefits. For some people the process is quite smooth with each session building on the last. These patients experience more obvious and sustained benefits. For other patients it can feel like we rocked the boat. There are ups and downs throughout the first six infusions.

Keep in mind that if you have been struggling with a mood disorder for years, it isn’t likely to just disappear overnight. You will still have variations in mood which are normal and healthy. Ketamine is meant to help you get to a more centered place. A place where your moods are proportional and appropriate to your life circumstances. This means you will still feel sad or anxious part of the time. These are normal and natural human emotions.

Factors Affecting the Timeline

Individual Variability:

Each person’s response to ketamine therapy is unique. Some individuals may experience obvious relief with just one session, while others might require more time to see significant improvements. It’s crucial to be patient and remember that ketamine therapy is a process.

Other medications:

Unfortunately, many patients are prescribed a host of psychiatric medications. This is all in an attempt to keep unwanted symptoms at bay. These medications often come with undesirable side effects and even more meds are prescribed to blunt the side effects. This polypharmacy can create a complex situation. It may cloud the picture. And, it may take more time to get a true sense for how ketamine is changing the landscape.

Dosage and Frequency:

The dose of ketamine and the frequency of infusions can influence the timeline. Higher doses and more frequent sessions might lead to quicker results. But, this should always be determined by your healthcare provider based on your specific needs and tolerance. The exact timing of your infusions is not critical, but we recommend at least once per week. Some find it comforting to complete six infusions in two weeks to get the maximum benefit as quickly as possible. Others prefer to have more time between each infusion to assess how the therapy is impacting them. Others have many constraints on their schedules with family and jobs. In these cases, they simply do the best they can just to get to the clinic. There are instances where travel or illness unexpectedly impact scheduling as well. This is all surmountable and it’s important to just take the process one step at a time. Do not become overly concerned with variables that are out of your control.

Coexisting Conditions:

The presence of other mental health conditions or physical health issues can impact the effectiveness and timeline of ketamine therapy. Your healthcare provider will consider these factors when designing your treatment plan.

Alcohol and other drugs:

We highly recommend a ‘less is more approach’ during ketamine therapy. The use of alcohol, marijuana and other illicit substances should be minimized and ideally avoided altogether during treatment. These substances can strongly affect your moods. They can also either directly interfere with the ketamine. Or, they can simply make it so that you can’t tell if the therapy is working. This is a result of being in an altered state from the other drugs. If you do consume any of these substances, you aren’t the only one. Many turn to other substances as a coping mechanism and an escape from the suffering they feel. Most will ultimately find benefit from the ketamine therapy. This assumes the intake of other substances is kept at a reasonable level. They should also be spaced as far from the infusions as possible.

Are you doing the work?

Ketamine is a game-changer for many who try it. But the best chance for success is when you are willing to take action outside of the treatments. This is about forming healthy habits and working towards a life that you want. You should act on the insights or changes that you felt during the treatment. If you keep doing the exact same thing your results will likely be less than optimal. Any temporary benefits may fade away. Some people seem to intuitively know how to do this after years of struggling to find relief. Others will really need to work on developing new skills and habits to reinforce the results from ketamine infusions.

Therapeutic Support:

Combining ketamine infusions with psychotherapy can enhance the overall outcome and help you manage your symptoms more effectively. Your therapist can provide tools and coping strategies to complement the effects of ketamine.


Ketamine infusion therapy offers new hope for individuals struggling with treatment-resistant conditions. While it’s natural to hope for quick relief, it’s essential to approach ketamine treatment with patience and realistic expectations. The timeline for experiencing the full benefits of ketamine infusions can vary from person to person. But with the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider, you can work towards a brighter, more emotionally stable future. If you’re considering ketamine infusion therapy, consult with a professional who specializes in this treatment. They can help to create a personalized plan tailored to your needs. Remember that healing takes time. Ketamine may be a powerful tool in your journey to a better tomorrow. However, it’s just one piece of the puzzle. It is best to combine it with therapy, self-care, and a strong support system. This combination can increase your chances of finding lasting relief and rediscovering a fulfilling life.

NW Ketamine Infusion

July 29, 2023

Disclaimer: This blog does not constitute medical advice but rather a synthesis of published reports and accumulation of personal experience in treating patients using ketamine. The information in this post should not be used to guide medical decisions.