Psychotherapy is a widely recognized and effective treatment option for a variety of mental health conditions. It involves talking to a trained therapist in a confidential setting about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences, and can help you gain insights, work through difficult emotions, and make positive changes in your life.
While psychotherapy is often an effective treatment option, some individuals may experience symptoms of mental illness that are so severe that they are unable to engage in traditional talk therapy. In these cases, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) may be a helpful alternative. KAP involves the use of ketamine, a medication that has been shown to have powerful antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, in combination with traditional psychotherapy.
This approach has the potential to provide relief for those who have not responded well to other treatment options and can help individuals engage more fully in the therapeutic process.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is an FDA-approved medication that has been used for decades in operating rooms as an anesthetic and in emergency rooms to manage severe pain.
More recently, ketamine was rediscovered as a rapid-acting antidepressant and has since proven effective in managing symptoms of a wide variety of severe mental illnesses. These include depression, anxiety disorders, suicidal thoughts, OCD, and addiction.
Unlike traditional medications for mental illness, which can take weeks or even months to start working, ketamine infusion therapy can produce rapid and sometimes profound improvements in mood and symptoms within a matter of hours or days.
This makes it an ideal treatment for people who are in the midst of a mental health crisis or those who have not had any success with other forms of treatment.
How Does Ketamine Therapy Work?
Ketamine is usually administered intravenously (IV) over 45 to 60 minutes. During the infusion process, the patient typically reclines in a comfortable chair or bed and is monitored closely by the medical staff.
Although its mode of action is still being investigated, researchers believe ketamine works by modulating glutamate and other neurotransmitter systems in the brain.
This promotes synaptic plasticity and improved neuronal connectivity, which consequently leads to an improvement in mood, emotional processing, and cognition. Essentially, ketamine infusions work as a “reset” for the brain.
What is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a new innovative treatment that uses ketamine as an adjunct to traditional talk therapy. In other words, the patient remains awake and aware during the ketamine infusion and can interact with the therapist during the session. However, this variety of therapy doesn’t always consist of talk therapy during the infusion – at our clinic specifically, therapy is done within 24-48 hours of the infusion.
KAP has been found to help treat a wide variety of mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
How Does Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Work?
During standard therapy, patients can unknowingly put up mental barriers that prevent them from fully engaging with the therapist and working through their issues. This is especially true for patients who have experienced trauma or those with chronic mental illness.
Ketamine can help break down these barriers by inducing a dreamlike state, allowing the patient to access parts of their subconscious mind that they may be otherwise unable to reach. This can lead to deeper self-awareness and understanding, which can help resolve long-standing issues.
Ketamine also helps reduce the fear response and increase suggestibility, allowing patients to confront and work through their fears and traumas more easily. This also reduces the amount of time needed for a patient to reach a breakthrough in their therapy.
What Does This Mean for Mental Health Treatment?
To recap, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a newer treatment approach that combines the use of ketamine, a medication with powerful antidepressant and anti-anxiety effects, with traditional psychotherapy. KAP has shown great promise in helping people quickly and effectively address their mental health concerns, and its unique ability to access the subconscious mind and facilitate healing of old “wounds” makes it a potentially revolutionary treatment option.
In addition, ketamine’s known “healing effect” on the brain makes it a promising choice for those struggling with mental illness. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulties with mental health and have not found relief through traditional treatments, KAP may be worth considering as a potential treatment option. It is always important to consult with a qualified healthcare provider before starting any new treatment.