Ketamine is a drug approved by the FDA for treatment-resistent depression and acute suicidal ideation. It is also widely used to treat anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, addiction, and many other mental health disorders. It can be administered intravenously, orally, intramuscularly, or nasally*. Ketamine used in conjunction with psychological counseling is known as Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP). Recent research supports KAP as a highly effective method of treating even the most challenging mental health disorders.
How Does Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy Work?
One of the most successful means of treating anxiety and depression in the past has been to combine conventional antidepressants with traditional talk therapy, or psychotherapy. While some patients may find efficacy via antidepressant medication or psychotherapy alone, the combined approach has been demonstrated to be up to twice as beneficial when compared to placebo.
The reasons why drug-assisted psychotherapy is more effective are complicated. Research continually supports its use for many mental health disorders. Some patients may achieve remission using either anti-depressants or talk therapy, but this is a small percentage. In fact, 67 percent of patients may experience a recurrence of symptoms using only one of these therapies. Long-term remission is much more prevalent among patients utilizing the combination method.
A more recent method that incorporates this widely researched approach involves the use of psychedelics in place of conventional antidepressants. Currently, ketamine is the only FDA approved psychedelic for the treatment of anxiety and depression. Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy involves the supervised administration of low doses of ketamine over a prescribed period of time, while also meeting regularly for traditional talk therapy.
The positive effects of ketamine therapy alone on resistant symptoms of anxiety and depression are well documented. Emerging research continues to support its use in a wide array of mental health disorders, as well as its additive effect on traditional psychotherapy. That is to say, ketamine combined with psychotherapy can have even greater and more long-term effects than ketamine alone.
Ketamine vs SSRIs
Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) are a class of antidepressants that have become extremely popular in the treatment of certain mental health disorders. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter important in mood regulation, among many other things. SSRIs block the reuptake, or reabsorption, of available serotonin into neurons. The result is a higher level of serotonin in the body, which can have a positive effect on mood, focus, memory, and more.
Typically, the effects of SSRIs are not appreciated until several weeks of taking the drug.
Ketamine does not act on neurotransmitters, but rather a receptor known as NMDA. Ketamine effectively suppresses the NMDA receptor which, in turn, increases the activity of a neurotransmitter known as glutamate. Glutamate, among other things, is thought to play a critical role in learning and memory functions in the brain.
When administered in high doses, ketamine has an anesthetic and analgesic effect. Its early uses were restricted to the realm of surgery, where it is still used with other means of anesthesia today. In low doses, however, ketamine can have an almost immediate effect on symptoms of depression and anxiety. Again, the reasons for this are complex; however, the drug appears to not only affect glutamate levels, but also allow for new synapses to form in the frontal cortex of the brain.
Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy Near Me
Ketamine assisted psychotherapy is becoming more widespread, thanks to its efficacy in treatment of even the more challenging mental health disorders. At the Crane Center, we administer ketamine intranasally or intramuscularly. You will be closely monitored for up to two hours in our peaceful office setting. Your doctor will work with you to determine the exact dose, route of administration, and frequency, while also planning for any supportive counseling.
If you or someone you love is suffering from symptoms of anxiety and depression, or you have other mental health concerns, please contact our office to schedule a consultation.
*The intranasal “S” form of ketamine, or esketamine, is the only FDA approved means of administering the drug outside of a surgical setting. This is in conjunction with an FDA approved oral antidepressant.