What Does Ketamine Feel Like? The Experience Explained

March 17, 2022

Nue Life

Nue Life

Top points

  • Ketamine therapy is a unique experience, which may include some unusual (or ‘psychedelic’) elements.
  • Ketamine loosens the grip of negative thought patterns and offers new perspectives that support positivity and healing.
  • Ketamine offers an alternative to SSRIs and SNRIs, which only help 1 in 5 people.

Ketamine has been around for several decades. It was originally used for anesthesia, but, in recent years, ketamine has begun to be utilized for its effectiveness as a treatment for depression. Depending on who you ask, you might get a range of answers about what ketamine feels like. The feeling of ketamine has been described as euphoric, detached, “chilled,” as well as anxious, depending on the user.

This hallucinogenic therapy is different from other forms of treatment because of the unusual experience that comes with it. If you have never experienced ketamine or psychotherapy before, you might be a little wary of trying it out for treatment of your depression. Depending on who you ask, you might get a range of answers about what ketamine feels like. The feeling of ketamine has been described as euphoric, detached, “chilled,” as well as anxious, depending on the user. 

So today, let’s walk through the experience of ketamine. We want to put your mind at ease about the ketamine experience.

What Is Ketamine Therapy?

Learning what ketamine feels like starts with learning how it’s used therapeutically today. Ketamine is a revolutionary therapy for depression. It has been studied for years for its effects on the mind and mental health, but in 2019, the FDA officially approved a form of ketamine treatment for use against treatment-resistant depression. 

The need for effective depression treatment is ever-growing. Not only are rates of depression climbing, but recent studies have shown that the most common depression medications, SSRIs and SNRIs, only show effective results for about 20 out of 100 people. 

For many people, finding an effective treatment for depression can take months or even years. But since ketamine technology has developed, there has been growing hope for achieving mental wellness.

Effectiveness of Ketamine

Ketamine works by affecting the neurotransmitters in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals released in the brain that help your neurons communicate with each other. In cases of depression, there are often insufficient levels of neurotransmitters in the brain. So, how does the feeling of ketamine help treat depression?

Specifically, ketamine triggers the production of glutamate, one of the most prominent neurotransmitters. It does this by binding the NMDA receptors in the brain. The glutamate surge helps your brain release growth factors like brain-derived neurotrophic factors. In this way, ketamine helps brain cells communicate with one another. 

By increasing glutamate production, ketamine gives your brain a big boost in neuroplasticity, or your brain’s ability to form new neural pathways. In this way, the ketamine experience can lead you away from repetitive thought patterns that may be contributing to your depression.

Essentially, a ketamine experience loosens the hold your negative thought patterns have on you and gives you an exciting opportunity to establish new patterns of positivity and happiness. 

This treatment has been so effective that one Yale study on ketamine’s effects on depression showed that over half its participants saw dramatic improvements in their symptoms within the first 24 hours after the ketamine experience. 

Ketamine can be the catalyst for change for your mental health and living a holistic life.

What Can Ketamine Therapy Help Treat?

Ketamine was originally not a mental health treatment at all. It was a dissociative anesthetic used for surgeries. Eventually, ketamine became approved for use in pain management. But now, ketamine has been shown to be capable of so much more than that.

Ketamine has shown impressive results in helping treat several different types of mental illnesses. Let’s take a look at how it helps specifically with a few.


As we’ve already discussed, ketamine has shown incredible results in the treatment of depression. Specifically, ketamine shines in regards to treatment-resistant depression. For so many people, the traditional treatment has proven ineffective, and conventional antidepressants are simply not enough.

In these cases, ketamine can be something that breaks the status quo. Ketamine can help provide almost instant relief to depression symptoms, making it very helpful for cases that need immediate relief.


The glutamate production ketamine causes can also be helpful for treatment-resistant anxiety. Ketamine can provide rapid relief for people who need treatment for their anxieties.


Ketamine has also proven incredibly effective for treating PTSD. In most cases of PTSD, not enough stress hormones were released during a traumatic event, resulting in a loss of connection between certain synapses in the brain.

Ketamine’s production of glutamate can help restore those lost neural pathways and help you begin to move on from your trauma and break the negative thought loop.

How Is Ketamine Therapy Administered?

Now more than ever, the ketamine experience can be delivered more safely and responsibly. Ketamine is often administered via nasal spray, by injection, or by an IV. But all of these methods require you to go into a doctor’s office and have the experience there. Not only are these methods uncomfortable, but they also require doctor supervision. 

This means that a doctor has to administer the ketamine, and then you have to remain under supervision for about two hours. It can be inconvenient and time-consuming, but the feeling of ketamine treatment could be worth the wait for many. For others, the ketamine experience may be better suited for home.

At Nue Life, we’ve developed an oral ketamine protocol, taken in the form of a pill that dissolves in your mouth. This way, you can experience the medication at home, with minimal inconvenience and no discomfort.

What Does Ketamine Feel Like?

The ketamine experience is far different than the experience of normal antidepressants. Because ketamine is a psychedelic drug, when you take your dose of ketamine, you may experience a pleasant, mild hallucination. However, the feeling of ketamine is not like your stereotypical psychedelic “trip” at all.

Everybody’s experience is different. But ketamine can make you feel floaty and light. You may experience soothing augmentations to reality. 

Many people say that ketamine makes it feel like they’re in a dream. It helps them detach for a moment into a relaxed and happy state. 

Some even say that ketamine feels like a spiritual experience. It can help you realize the connection between the health of your mind and the health of your body. In this way, ketamine could help you achieve spiritual wholeness and oneness. 

It’s important to know that, when used medically, ketamine is administered in smaller doses, so your experience will most likely not be a crazy or scary hallucination like it would be if you used it illegally. Most patients tend to feel drowsy and maybe a bit tipsy. 

They may see or hear a few things that aren’t really there, but they tend to be pleasant, and many patients tend to get meaningful takeaways from their ketamine experience. These takeaways can be especially valuable when they’re explored in therapy, with a clinician who is familiar with ketamine treatment. At Nue Life, our treatment programs include integration groups expressly for this purpose.

What Are the Side Effects of Ketamine?

Aside from the pleasant psychedelic experiences, ketamine can potentially also have some negative bodily side effects. Most side effects are associated with larger doses and with illegal use, but, as with any medical drug, side effects are a possibility. 

Side effects can include nausea, dissociation, vertigo, increased blood pressure, and lethargy, thereby taking away from the more positive ketamine experience being garnered today. 

Nausea is the most common side effect, but this can mostly be avoided by not eating anything two hours before your experience.

Is Ketamine Safe?

But don’t be mistaken, ketamine is completely safe for use. Medical doses of ketamine are specifically formulated for safety, and doses will vary based on the patient to make for a healthy and positive experience.

It’s important to note that ketamine is not safe when used recreationally. There is no way to guarantee you will have a good experience with the illegal use of ketamine. Illegal ketamine could come from unsanitary or unsafe sources, and there is no way of knowing if there are additional substances in the ketamine you take.

In addition, when ketamine is taken in recreational doses, there is a risk of having a bad experience (a “bad trip”) and a higher risk of unpleasant dissociation.

But when ketamine is used clinically, it is entirely safe. There has been ample research not only on the effectiveness of ketamine for depression and other mental illnesses but also research on the safety of ketamine and its side effects.

This treatment is safe and effective, and it can greatly help you on your journey to achieve mental wholeness.

How to Make The Most Out of Ketamine

As we said before, the benefit of ketamine is in its effects on neuroplasticity. It frees your brain to establish new, healthier patterns of thought. Ketamine can release the hold that negative thinking has on the mind and make way for a newer, better mindset.

That means that you can see the best results if you combine ketamine with two things: therapy and lifestyle change. 

Holistic health means that your mind, body, and lifestyle are all working for you synergistically, and that a positive ketamine feeling can be accessed more freely. Going to therapy can help you process the causes of your depression and work through your stressors so you can make something good out of them. 

If you put in the work to find purpose in your struggles, you can make the most out of your neuroplasticity. Therapy can truly help you establish those powerful new thought patterns and set you up for success when it comes to driving depression away in the future. 

And a good lifestyle is also crucial for keeping depression at bay. Exercise, a healthy diet, a good support system of friends, a proper social life – all of these things are important to helping you win your mental battles and keep your mind healthy. 

A great place to start is by journaling. Aim to address them by getting your thoughts out into the open so you can process them.


Ketamine may just be the hope that you’ve been searching for. If you’re considering ketamine for the treatment of depression, you will likely find a pleasant, healing experience.

And that experience can be enhanced when you are able to have your experience in the comfort of your home.

If you’ve tried conventional treatments and haven’t found the relief you desire, ketamine therapy could hold the keys to lasting change.

Treatment at Nue Life

Nue Life believes in holistic treatment. What happens after your ketamine experience is equally as important as the experience itself. We want to ensure you have meaningful takeaways from your experiences and help you establish positive new neural pathways.

That’s why we provide one-on-one health coaching and integration group sessions with our programs. We are here to help map out the mind and body connections in your brain, and help you discover the real insights that lead to real relief.


Depression: How effective are antidepressants? | InformedHealth

FDA approves new nasal spray medication for treatment-resistant depression; available only at a certified doctor’s office or clinic | FDA

Five Things to Know About Esketamine | Mount Sinai Physicians

How New Ketamine Drug Helps with Depression | Yale Medicine

NIMH | New Hope for Treatment-Resistant Depression: Guessing Right on Ketamine | National Institutes of Health

Will Ketamine Be A Breakthrough Drug for PTSD? | Brain and Behavior Research Center

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