What Is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

What Is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?

People who suffer from depression and chronic pain conditions often feel they have nowhere to turn if they can’t find relief through conventional treatment or medicine. They may try an alternative therapy, self-help strategies, or other methods to improve their mental and physical health, but what about Ketamine-assisted therapy?

What is Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy is used when treating psychological issues by talking with a mental health specialist, like a psychiatrist or psychologist. While undergoing psychotherapy, you learn about your illness, including your behaviors, feelings, moods, and thoughts. It’s a kind of “talk therapy” which helps you regain control of your life and react to stressful situations with healthy coping skills. There are numerous psychotherapy, each with a unique approach customized to your needs.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is powerful medicine, initially used for anesthesia in the early 1960s. Sixty years ago, it was field-tested to treat wounded U.S. combat troops fighting in Vietnam and began its march toward fame and widespread acceptance. Ketamine was formally approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1970 for human use and as a veterinarian anesthetic. Since that time, its other medicinal value has been explored, including treating symptoms of mental illness.

Why use Psychotherapy?

Psychotherapy, in general, helps people deal with conflicts, reduce stress, and self-manage their symptoms. It’s a therapeutic approach that’s returned positive results for people dealing with illnesses such as:

  • Anxiety disorders (obsessive-compulsive disorder, phobias, or post-traumatic stress disorder)
  • Mood disorders (bipolar disorder or depression)
  • Addictions (drug dependence, alcoholism, or gambling)
  • Eating disorders like anorexia or bulimia
  • Personality disorders including dependent personality disorder or borderline personality disorder 
  • Schizophrenia or other conditions resulting in detachment from reality

What Is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy? 

Ketamine-assisted therapy is a unique treatment approach utilized for mental health issues that don’t always respond well to other singular forms of therapy, such as depression, addiction, post-traumatic stress, chronic pain, and some conditions of anxiety. It involves a combination of ketamine to improve and deepen the therapeutic procedure and the use of “talk therapy” and other consolidative forms of treatment to boost and lengthen the medicinal power of ketamine.

When dispensed in low doses, ketamine is a supplement to psychotherapy because it temporarily softens natural psychological defenses. It provides for more profound self-reflection and management of sometimes-painful symptoms of mental illness. 

Because it’s a dissociative medicine, ketamine produces psychedelic effects, some of which may foster a new understanding of the human psyche beyond personal identity. These kinds of experiences can offer clarity and vision into one’s psychological struggles, adding what some people consider a spiritual dimension to ongoing therapy and fostering a sense of interconnectedness and meaning to one’s life.

Ketamine therapy benefits

  • If a person responds to ketamine, it can quickly minimize life-threatening thoughts and behaviors.
  • Ketamine may relieve other symptoms of depression. It may also be helpful for treating combined instances of depression and anxiety.
  • It has a strong anti-depressive effect.

What about side effects?

All drugs have side effects, but ketamine may result in:

  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Queasiness and vomiting
  • Perceptual instabilities, with time, seemingly speeding up or slowing; overly stimulating colors, textures, and noises; and blurred vision

Psychotherapy can offer many benefits throughout several therapeutic sessions, including:

  • Helps you recognize and change behavior and thinking patterns known to be harmful or ineffective.
  • Helps people understand interpersonal issues that are bothersome, like unsettled grief, changes within social or work circles, and other relationship troubles.
  • Helps people with long-term suicidal thoughts and those experiencing eating disorders, borderline personality disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder.
  • May improve self-awareness.
  • Helps develop positive coping mechanisms.

Alternative Therapies

Not everyone experiencing anxiety or more serious mental health issues feels comfortable going to psychotherapy or using medicine like ketamine. Fortunately, there are alternative methods you can explore to help manage symptoms of depression, chronic pain, and other conditions. These may include:

  • The use of dietary supplements “to promote health and wellness as well as to treat pain, depression, and anxiety.”
  • Mindfulness and other kinds of meditation help to better understand personal consciousness and the surrounding world.
  • Aromatherapy, uses natural aromatic essences to foster balance, harmony, and promote a healthy body, mind, and spirit.

Final Thoughts

Symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, other mental illnesses, and chronic pain conditions pose significant challenges for millions of Americans regardless of age or gender. If ignored or untreated, they can have terrible consequences, but helpful options exist, including ketamine-assisted therapy.