Did you know that ketamine-assisted therapy has a 50% or better response rate in clinical settings? These stats come as a surprise to many mental health practitioners who associate the medicine with other street drugs.
But ketamine is an exciting new therapy that may be very beneficial in improving traditional talk therapy and other treatments for depression and anxiety.
What are the benefits of ketamine-assisted therapy? Could it be the right treatment option for you?
In this article, we will walk you through everything you need to know about ketamine-assisted therapy. We’ll talk about what to expect at your first session.
What Is Ketamine-Assisted Therapy?
Ketamine is a well-known drug that was first used to put people to sleep before small surgeries. Because it makes people sleepy and relaxes their muscles, ketamine is becoming more and more popular as a recreational drug.
Scientists who work in mental health have recently investigated how ketamine is used to treat depression and thoughts of suicide. Even though ketamine works well as a medicine for depression, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet approved it for this purpose.
Why Patients Undergo Ketamine-Assisted Therapy
Most of the research on how ketamine can be used to treat depression looks at how it works as an infusion that is injected into a vein. Ketamine can also be used as a nasal spray, which is a milder form of the drug.
Both are legitimate forms of ketamine. However, they work in different ways that haven’t been fully studied yet.
Ketamine may help some people with depression. It may work best in those whose depression doesn’t respond to other treatments. Because of this, a person should talk to a mental health professional to find out if ketamine is the right way to treat them.
Most of the time, one to three infusions of ketamine are enough to make a depressed person feel better. But different people will notice different effects happen to them.
Some people may feel less depressed after one to three infusions, while others may feel little or no change after the same number of infusions. People who use ketamine to treat depression and feel better after the first few infusions are most likely to continue to feel better over time.
Several research studies have investigated how ketamine is used to find out how it works in the body and how it helps people. Some studies have shown that when ketamine is given through an IV, depressive symptoms can go away in as little as six hours. People have said that these effects are as good or better than taking traditional antidepressants for six weeks.
What to Expect During Ketamine-Assisted Therapy
Ketamine-assisted therapy has turned out to be a great new way for doctors to help people with very severe mental health problems. Many patients rejoice when realizing they have found a treatment that works for them after trying so many others that didn’t.
But ketamine infusion therapy isn’t a panacea because it only works for a short time. It also doesn’t work very well unless infusions are used with other treatments or changes in lifestyle.
One of the best ways to improve the healing effects of treatments is to combine them with traditional psychotherapy, or “talk therapy.” This way, the patient can get help in more than one way. A therapist helps a person move more quickly through the processing needed for lasting change.
During a therapy session, the environment is set up to make people feel safe when they are worried or sad. It becomes easier to relax as a person works on their mental health and digs deeper to find the main things that affect their health. For people with depression and PTSD, seeing a therapist is a very important part of getting better.
Most patients feel that they can let go more easily knowing they have a guide to keep them safe during the therapy. It encourages them to be okay with what they see and learn during therapy.
Understanding Thought Patterns with the Help of Ketamine
During psychotherapy with ketamine, the patient may have strange thoughts and feelings. Having an interpreter can be very helpful, and if we can better understand what our minds are trying to tell us, it can lead to very healing moments. A therapist can help you figure out what some of the signs that surface during therapy really mean.
Some providers try to have patients write down or just tell the doctor what happened to them after an infusion treatment. But after the session, many people find it hard to explain what they saw.
When a client talks about their past in a session, it seems to go better and gives the therapist more to work with. If they didn’t try to remember, they could use metaphors.
These sessions can give you new ideas and points of view that you might not understand as quickly or at all if you did them on your own. But with ketamine assisted psychotherapy, you can dig deeper to find out what’s going on under the surface of your emotions.
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can help people with many kinds of illnesses in many ways. Even more so if it can be done along with meditation before a treatment session. This practice helps the treatment work better by teaching patients how to use meditative arts to make a space in their minds where they can heal. When used together, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and meditation can help all patients feel better for longer.
How Long Will It Take for Ketamine to Work?
Infusions of ketamine relieve depression symptoms very quickly, often within hours. Researchers are still trying to figure out how this strong effect works, but they do know that ketamine quickly raises glutamate levels.
Glutamate is the main neurotransmitter that makes your brain’s synapses grow. It helps fix and strengthen important neural connections and pathways in the parts of the brain that are most affected by depression. Because of these new links, the way brain circuits work improves.
Does Ketamine Work for the Long Term?
Ketamine infusion therapy is still being researched, but studies have shown that it works well for treating long-term depression.
Several studies show that more than half of people with TRD feel better after just one infusion, and many more feel better after two or three. Different individuals will respond in their own ways to treatment.
Ketamine infusion therapy is very helpful for people who haven’t been able to get long-term relief from traditional medical treatments. Many who try infusions or assisted therapy say it is the first time they started to feel “normal” again. This is the best possible news for both patients and providers.
Does Ketamine Have Drawbacks?
Even though ketamine is good at treating long-term depression, no treatment is perfect. The main drawbacks of ketamine are that it can make you feel out of it for a while after treatment and that it might be addictive if not used properly in a medical setting.
Ketamine can cause temporary side effects. These include mild hallucinations, a feeling of floating, blurry vision, and dizziness. Doctors will give small doses to try to minimize these effects during treatment.
Because you might have side effects during therapy, you will need someone else to drive you to and from your treatment. Ketamine’s mild dissociative effects usually go away quickly. However, the treatment can make you feel tired or groggy until you get a good night’s sleep.
Last, treating TRD with ketamine isn’t always the best thing to do for individuals with a history of substance use. Because it can be addicting, people who have used drugs before or who have been told they have an addiction disorder should explore other therapies.
Choosing Ketamine-Assisted Therapy
At the end of the day, ketamine-assisted therapy is an exciting new treatment that has helped thousands of individuals. When used safely in a clinical setting, it provides a new way to unlock healing for patients who are at the end of their rope. It works quickly and effectively, though it does have some side effects that need to be monitored closely.
If you are interested in trying this medicine to help your own healing journey, please contact us today. We would love to set you up with one of our providers who can help you determine if this treatment is right for you.