The Four Types of Experiences You May Have With Ketamine

Scouring the internet you may find yourself looking to answer your burning question...What will it be like during my ketamine infusion? What will my reaction be? What will my experience be like?

You may be wondering if you’ll have an entheogenic experience, and if so, what is that? You may find that people talk about the “dissociative experience” effect to be concerning.  However, one study by Lukenbaugh et al, demonstrated people with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) had a more robust and sustained antidepressant effect in those who experienced dissociation during the infusion (1).

This dissociative experience during ketamine is also known as a, “ketamine-induced non-ordinary state of consciousness.” There are four types of experiences one could have and are dependent upon the ketamine dosage and the mindset of the individual when receiving the medicine.

According to Dr. Eli Kolp, here are the 4 types of experiences or “states" (2):  

Empathogenic Experience

Awareness of body; comfort and relaxation;  reduced ego defenses; empathy, compassion, and warmth; love and peace; euphoria; mind is dreamy with non-specific colorful visual effects

Out-of-Body Experience (OBE)

Complete separation from one’s body;  significantly diminished ego defenses;  visits to mythological realms of consciousness;  encounters with non-terrestrial beings; emotionally intense visions (e.g., deceased relatives, spirits); vivid dreams of past and future incarnations; re-experiencing the birth process

Near-Death Experience (NDE)

Departure from one’s body; complete ego dissolution/loss of identity; experienced physical (body) and psychological (mind) death; experience being a single point of consciousness simply aware of itself; reliving one’s life aware of how actions have affected others, with moral judgment of self

Ego-Dissolving Transcendental Experience (EDT)

Ecstatic state of the dissolution of boundaries between the self and external reality; complete dissolution of one’s body and self (soul); transcending normal mass/time/space continuum; collective consciousness; unity with Nature/Universe; sacredness

Again, each experience is dependent upon dose, setting, and the individual's mindset.  Whatever experience you may have, its important to make sure you receive your infusion from a doctor you trust and a clinic you feel comfortable in. 

References:

  1. Luckenbaugh DA, Niciu MJ, Ionescu DF, et al. Do the dissociative side effects of ketamine mediate its antidepressant effects? Journal of affective disorders. 2014;159:56-61. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2014.02.017.
  2. Kolp, Eli & L. Friedman, Harris & Krupitsky, Evgeny & Jansen, Karl & Sylvester, Mark & Young, Matthew & Kolp, Anna. (2014). Ketamine Psychedelic Psychotherapy: Focus on its Pharmacology, Phenomenology, and Clinical Applications. International Journal of Transpersonal Studies. 33. 84-140. 10.24972/ijts.2014.33.2.84.