Many medications are powerful life saviors in both physical and mental conditions. So is the psychedelic medication, Ketamine, which has been typically used as an anesthetic in hospitals. It is considered a promising treatment option for major depressive disorders including treatment-resistant depression (TRD), PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), and anxiety disorder when administered in conjunction with psychotherapy also known as Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy.
It is a psychoactive drug that was synthesized in 1962. It has been used in healthcare settings in the United States since 1970 as a potent and safe anesthetic. In recent years, it has been used in conjunction with psychotherapy in subanesthetic or low doses, to treat depression, chronic pain, and other mental health problems. Due to its rapid antidepressant effect, it relieves emotional suffering, depressive episodes, and suicidal urges rapidly. Multiple sessions of Ketamine assisted therapy have shown a cumulative effect in relieving the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression up to 60-70% of the individuals.
Ketamine-assisted therapy is a therapeutic method that addresses a large variety of mental health problems like depression, PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, addiction, and anxiety disorders. In addition to psychotherapy, Ketamine is administered to deepen and enhance the therapeutic process. Administration of Ketamine in low doses in conjunction with psychotherapy, softens the psychological defenses temporarily, allowing psychotherapeutic processing and deep self-reflection of the person. Ketamine affects NMDA glutamate receptors that are responsible for memory and synaptic activity. The effect of Ketamine on NMDA receptors enhances the rewriting and relearning ability of the patients. Memories open, get activated and become malleable. Ketamine consolidates these memories so that new memories can occupy your brain, releasing memories of painful events, sufferings, emotional breakdowns, and cravings for alcohol or other drugs of abuse. This new and flexible knowledge helps in the establishment of new and healthy habits after therapy. Ketamine-assisted therapy opens up a doorway to unconscious material and thoughts in the mind of the patient. A highly skilled therapist gains access to those untold and unfolded stories that disturb the thoughts of the patient. This inner access to "stuck" content and emotions allows active examination and reconsolidation of thoughts with long-lasting changes in the overall lifestyle of the patient.
There have been numerous studies evaluating the efficacy of ketamine for various mental health conditions. For example, the effectiveness of Ketamine Assisted Therapy has been studied in a cohort-based case report to evaluate the effectiveness of Ketamine assisted therapy in people with PTSD and depression. In a 12-weeks treatment program, 91% of the patients with a generalized anxiety disorder (irritability, unstoppable worrisome thoughts, trouble relaxing) showed improvement in their symptoms. Symptoms of depression (hopelessness, loss of interest in daily activities, loss of appetite, and disturbed sleeping patterns) improved in 79% of the patients. 86% of people with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) left the program as they screened negative for symptoms of PTSD after ketamine-assisted therapy. Clinical improvement was noticed in 92% of patients with impaired work relationships, friendships, romantic relationships, and lack of self-care. These statistics support the effectiveness of Ketamine assisted therapy.
Initially, you will meet a physician for medical evaluation. The aim here is to assess whether you qualify for a Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy session or not. If you qualify for the ketamine-assisted psychotherapy session, you will meet with a therapist who will guide you through the ketamine experience. The therapist will provide a psychological evaluation and preparatory session to set your intention. After the preparatory sessions, you'll have your first ketamine-assisted psychotherapy session.
One ketamine-assisted psychotherapy session lasts for about two hours. Your therapist will be with you online during this time. You'll be administered Ketamine. There are various routes of administration of Ketamine i.e., oral, Intranasal, intramuscular, intravenous, and sublingual. Isha uses oral ketamine. The effect of ketamine usually begins at 15-20 minutes and peaks at 40 minutes and disappears after 2 hours usually. After administration, you'll lie down within an eye mask and music being played in the background. You'll feel a sense of relaxation of mind, tingling sensations in the body, a surge of past memories, and images of old events passing in front of your mind. Your therapist will gain access to your inner self. This will continue for approximately one hour. After that, you'll have a detailed discussion about your experience and further follow-ups.
Ketamine does not activate dopamine pathways like other drugs of abuse do. There is no evidence of an addictive mechanism of action of Ketamine when used in medically supervised settings. In contrast, Ketamine has shown promising results in the treatment of drug addiction. No case studies have shown worsening of drug addiction symptoms after ketamine-assisted therapy. The use of ketamine is rarely compulsive.
Ketamine assisted psychotherapy can provide tremendous healing potential for various mental health conditions. This treatment modality improves the efficacy of the medication by helping patients make sense of the experience and work on the issues through psychotherapy.