Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is somewhat like that. It takes two proven mental health treatments – psychotherapy and ketamine – and combines them together in a new treatment that can be better than either treatment separately.
What is Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy?
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a treatment for mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, OCD and PTSD. It combines talk therapy (psychotherapy) and ketamine therapy together in a single session. During ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, the patient is administered ketamine and then undergoes a therapy session with a therapist while experiencing the therapeutic effects of ketamine. (Source)
Talk therapy is an excellent mental health tool to help patients explore thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and motivations that impact their mental health. Therapy involves communication between therapist and patient to explore issues causing poor mental health. With therapy, the therapist guides the patient to new understanding of issues and helps the patient develop coping mechanisms and strategies to address unwanted thoughts and behaviors.
Ketamine is a medication with anesthetic properties. It induces a dissociative state, which means that it can create a feeling of being detached from oneself and lose sensation in the body. This dissociative state has been found to induce healing for mental health disorders, including major depressive disorder. Ketamine is especially renowned for its fast-acting nature. While talk therapy and antidepressants can take many weeks or months to significantly impact depression in a patient, ketamine can reduce depression levels within a matter of hours.
How Does Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy Work?
People participating in talk therapy may refer to occasionally experiencing a “breakthrough”, a point where rapid progress is made. The challenge with therapy is that getting to that breakthrough point may be mentally and emotionally draining. Painful memories, unpleasant thoughts, and traumatic events from the past are not easy things to deal with. Our brains resist having to confront these unpleasant thoughts and feelings and bury them deep as a self-protection mechanism.
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy removes those natural barriers to processing painful emotions and experiences, helping to achieve breakthroughs faster and with less emotional pain. The dissociative nature of ketamine helps a patient distance themselves from the pain, thus allowing rapid progress in processing and moving past sticking points. (Source)
Should I Try Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy?
Patients suffering from major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD have multiple treatment options to choose from. It can be difficult knowing which treatment to choose. It is important to discuss treatment options and evaluate the pros and cons of each option with your psychiatrist or qualified mental health provider.
Patients who choose ketamine-assisted psychotherapy often do so for one of the following reasons:
Ketamine’s origin as an anesthetic makes it a notoriously fast-acting treatment. Ketamine – with or without accompanying psychotherapy – is used to treat mental health issues in large part because of its ability to rapidly alleviate depressive symptoms. Patients who undergo ketamine treatment feel noticeable relief from symptoms within a few hours or days after treatment. Compared to the weeks or months required for other treatments, ketamine seems almost instantaneous. Many patients and doctors choose ketamine specifically because it can produce a noticeable response in a short period of time.
Less taxing emotionally
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy speeds up the normal progress of therapy because it is less emotionally taxing for the patient. The sedative effect of ketamine makes it easier to address difficult and painful thoughts, memories, and experiences. Progress that would have taken months of therapy to accomplish is often achieved in just a few sessions. Both patients and therapists report high satisfaction at the rapid progress made during ketamine-assisted psychotherapy sessions.
Proven benefit of ketamine
Like a Reese’s peanut butter cup, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy combines two good things into a new, better thing. The good news is that even if major breakthroughs do not occur, patients still benefit from ketamine-assisted therapy because of the proven benefit of ketamine in alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, OCD, and PTSD. In one ketamine study, patients treated with ketamine for depression saw a 78.9 percent remission rate (meaning no longer classified as having depression) nine months after receiving ketamine treatment. (Source)
What Happens During a Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy Session?
As the ketamine takes effect, patients may experience a feeling of lightness or detachment from their physical body. Other patients describe an altered state of consciousness or a heightened awareness of their thoughts and emotions.
This altered state of consciousness is a unique window in which patients can work with a therapist to explore thoughts, emotions, and behaviors. The therapist may use various techniques to facilitate this exploration, including guided imagery, music therapy, and mindfulness practices.
Afterwards, patients typically reflect on their experience to examine new insights. The therapist works with the patient to use these insights to develop additional coping strategies for managing their depression, anxiety, or other disorder.
Through this process, progress is achieved much more rapidly than through traditional talk therapy.
Where to Get Help for Depression in Utah
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is available to patients in Salt Lake, Utah County, Ogden, and Davis County through Ampelis Health. Ampelis Health has two upscale clinic locations in South Ogden and Highland, Utah to treat patients suffering from major depressive disorder, postpartum depression, treatment resistant depression, anxiety, OCD, or PTSD.
If you live in Utah and want to see if ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is a good treatment option for you, call Ampelis Health today at 435-776-5909. Our compassionate and knowledgeable providers can assess your mental health and recommend a customized treatment plan tailored to fit your needs. Ampelis Health offers a variety of treatment options for patients dealing with depression, including ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, medication, and TMS.
To learn more, call Ampelis Health today at 435-776-5909 to schedule an appointment.