A journey of transformation
I had some unhealthy mental habits prior to founding my company Isha Health. During the pandemic, I worked as an ER doc and became a new mom. I had been working nonstop and ignoring my mental health to get me through my days. I felt numb and isolated but kept going because I had to. I hated talking about my past and feelings, and never thought about how I could benefit from it until I had ketamine-assisted therapy recommended by my brother.
Although I have a family member who had a drastic improvement of his depression with ketamine and I’ve been a practicing emergency doctor for 10 years and administered Ketamine to hundreds of patients being well aware of its safety in most cases, I was still skeptical if this would work for me. I read hundreds of studies on the use of Ketamine for mental health and became convinced that Ketamine + therapy could transform my mental health. So I gave it a try.
When I went through ketamine-assisted therapy, I experienced that we were all fundamentally one. We are all part of collective consciousness. This is a concept called Ego Death which sometimes occurs with ketamine, psilocybin, and ayahuasca. This changed the stories that I had been telling myself. It changed how I felt, thought, and acted. I was no longer numb or isolated. I felt transformed. The experience led to the creation of Isha Health.
Just in the last year, 25.8M Americans have tried therapy to improve their mental health. And more than 103M have issues for which they should seek therapy. Most of us don’t even try therapy, and even when we do, 50% wind up dropping out because it takes time to see the results.
Therapy is an important part of addressing mental health challenges, but your personal defense mechanisms can prevent real issues from being addressed for a long time. Psychedelics like Ketamine are a unique way to get directly to your core issues sometimes within a day. I’ve spoken to dozens of people who have experienced a mental health transformation like the one I experienced after a few doses of ketamine paired with therapy.
Ketamine has a unique quality where some people experience psychedelic effects, which could lead to mental health breakthroughs in days or weeks. It stimulates the creation of new brain cells and new connections between neurons. This makes your mind more flexible to new ideas and new ways of thinking. The scientific community has been aware of the potential benefits of Ketamine for several decades. Just in the past 20 years or so, multiple research institutions such as Yale, Stanford, and Harvard published articles that support the efficacy of ketamine for mental health conditions. While ketamine has been widely used in medicine since its FDA approval in 1970, its use in mental health treatment has gained more awareness as a result of the explosion of interest in different psychedelic substances for mental health treatment over the past couple of years.
Ketamine is a substance that emergency medicine physicians routinely use for various purposes such as procedural sedation and pain control. It has also been extensively studied for various mental health conditions with promising evidence. Compared to traditional psychiatric medications, it has a quicker onset and a longer duration of symptomatic relief. Due to this, now more and more clinicians are treating patients with ketamine-assisted therapy. With the help of experienced psychiatrists and psychotherapists, we built Isha to make ketamine-assisted therapy more accessible. Our hope is to bring this promising treatment to more patients who could benefit from this highly effective treatment.
Mai Shimada, MD MBA FAAEM