Addressing the 5 Most Common Fears of Ketamine

Medically reviewed by 
Chelsea Tersavich, PA-C
Published on 
October 17, 2022
Updated on 

Making major life decisions can be scary, even when you know that they’re for the best. With emerging treatment modalities like ketamine and psychedelic therapy broadly, there are a number of stories, concerns, questions, and worries that you might have. 

The fears and concerns often come from good, caring places – though they can leave you not making progress or taking decisive action for days, weeks, months, or years. Hopefully, this article will help you explore some of these concerns in more detail and take the action you need to take towards your own healing and wholeness.


A note on the following points: Everyone is different. Everyone has aspects of life that they focus on more than others. In the world of ketamine treatment, this means some individuals will fear certain aspects of the experience more than others. All of the concerns are valid.

While not exhaustive, these are several of the most common fears we have seen in clients. This article explores where the fear comes from, and how you can approach these if you are experiencing something similar. 


The Fear: “What if I have a bad trip? What if it starts and it’s too scary, intense, or gross? I’ve read the stories online, there can be some really scary things that happen – knowing my luck, I’m afraid that will happen to me.”

The fear of a bad trip is among the most common concerns potential clients have, for good reason. A Google search for psychedelic experience reports can bring a collection of strange and haunting stories to the forefront. There are a few important distinctions to draw as it relates to ketamine therapy. 

First, not all psychedelic experiences are the same. The ketamine experience is different from a psilocybin or ayahuasca experience. The stories you see online may refer to a different experience. 

Second, by working with providers like Mindbloom or practicing clinicians, you are receiving clean medicine at appropriate dosages for your experience, demographic, and life circumstances, greatly increasing the likelihood of an accessible and manageable experience. 

Third, with adequate preparation and set & setting, you learn the skills and attitudes that can help you work with any material that may surface during an experience. What is often called “bad trips” are often challenging experiences made more difficult by resistance, lack of or inadequate support, and inappropriate setting. This is managed when working with a skilled care team in conducive environments. 


The Fear: “What if something goes wrong during the session? They asked me a lot of health questions. What if I get sick, or my body doesn’t react well to it? I’m afraid for my physical safety, I don’t know if ketamine is safe for me.”

Fear of bodily harm is another common fear, and a very human one indeed. Physical safety is why it is important to work with trained providers and care teams. Between the medical screenings, clinical consults, titrated dosing, Guided preparation, and safety protocols – there are a number of checks in place to ensure your safety. 

After providing tens of thousands of sessions, there have been very few adverse events, none of them fatal, and most of them related to nausea. Once again, this is where ketamine is uniquely effective at being very safe, approachable, and well-understood in the scientific community. We ensure everyone is safe through a Clinical Consultation and health screening to ensure that you are the right fit for ketamine treatment.


The Fear: “What if this changes a part of me permanently? What if I lose something about myself? It feels like there’s no going back after I do this and I’m afraid that it might be permanent or permanently change me.”

While it is true that there can be long-lasting changes to individuals' outlooks, experiences of life, or relationships with themselves after a psychedelic experience, these are not inevitable life sentences. 

This is why post-experience integration is so important: regardless of how much you may want it, it still takes work to go from altered states to altered traits. It is very uncommon for there to be a “one and done” fundamental change in your personality after an experience like this. 

Particularly because ketamine is highly effective at providing a baseline mood elevation and new perspectives after a dosing session, it is even less likely that this change would be negative or long-lasting. 

As much as some individuals may want to have a magic pill that fundamentally fixes things overnight, ketamine is not one of these. 


The Fear: “I’ve tried everything so far. It’s taken a long time for me to get to this point and I’m proud of where I am. I’m afraid that this won’t work for me, and I don’t want to deal with that if it’s true. I’m afraid nothing will work.”

Continuing to try new health interventions without long-lasting or pronounced results can be exhausting and demotivating. Not wanting to go through this again is entirely reasonable. Where ketamine stands apart from other interventions is its efficacy in what is known as “treatment-resistant” cases, particularly as it relates to mental health conditions like anxiety and depression. 

Treatment resistance is defined as having tried a number of options, various medications or therapy sessions, and many combinations of this. Because of its proven history of helping individuals with treatment-resistant mental health conditions, it’s worth considering giving ketamine treatment a try, regardless of where you are and where you have been in your healing journey thus far. 


The Fear: “What if this changes everything? Who will I be? What will I have to do? What about my responsibilities and the life I have now? I like it. I’m afraid of the future, whether this goes well or not, I’m afraid of what will come next and unsure of doing this because of that.”

As much as it can be a challenge to grow further, sometimes individuals feel more comfortable staying with what is known, than going towards what is unknown, even if the unknown involves healing and growing! It’s a strange cognitive bias, and deep-seated fear that many hold. 

Fortunately, ketamine treatment has two ways that it can help manage and overcome this. After a single ketamine dosing session, there is a neuroplastic window of 10-14 days, often accompanied by a baseline mood elevation. Practically, this means that while moving into an uncertain future can be scary, your mind and body are equipped with a more open, confident, and positive disposition, and fresh neural pathways more conducive to handling change and making positive behavioral improvements in your life. 

With an ongoing treatment schedule, you are continually preparing yourself to handle whatever change comes your way. So while major changes are difficult, ketamine treatment helps put you in a receptive and empowered state to move with these changes and make the best of them. 


While everyone has their own relationship with ketamine therapy and their impressions of it, those are some of the most common fears and concerns that we come across with new clients.

There is another part here that often goes overlooked: not only is ketamine not something that needs to be feared, ketamine treatment can actually help you better manage your own fears and overcome them. 

By providing alternative perspectives, and positive mindsets, with the support of your care team and additional resources, ketamine treatment can provide the mindset & biological shifts that help individuals push past fear and take bold, decisive action in their lives.

Not only is ketamine not to be feared, ketamine treatment can help you overcome existing fears and limitations in your life. Ketamine treatment can help you resolve core wounds, outstanding fears, and general anxieties in your day-to-day life.


This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

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