If you have seen billboards for ketamine treatment therapy facilities in your area or observed advertisements for at-home ketamine on social media, then you are definitely aware that the substance with ketamine treatment therapy-like effects is gaining popularity as a mental health therapy for specific issues.
However, it’s possible that the enthusiasm around ketamine treatment is growing faster than the need for it. In the same amount of time that ketamine treatment clinics have opened their doors, several of them have shut down. According to Behavioral Health Business, two national businesses in particular, Ketamine Wellness Centers and Field Trip Health & Wellness, have suddenly ceased operations in certain areas where they had previously been present.
What You Should Know About Ketamine Therapy With all the buzz surrounding ketamine treatment, the centers that provide it, and the expanding scientific research on its potential health benefits, here is what you should know about ketamine therapy—from its five-decade-long history to risks and what you can expect if you pursue treatment under the guidance of your doctor.
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Definition of Ketamine Treatment Therapy
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) of the United States, ketamine treatment has the properties of both a dissociative anesthetic and a hallucinogen. That means:
A state that is dissociative It’s possible that you feel detached from your own ideas and emotions, as well as the thoughts and feelings of others around you and your surroundings.
An anesthetic. It acts as a pain reliever.
Psychedelic substance It’s possible that your state of awareness will shift.
Even though the DEA classifies ketamine treatment therapy as a Schedule 3 substance, it is often used legitimately as a sedative in medical settings. However, it is also taken illegally as a recreational drug, and this usage may sometimes lead to misuse. These two applications are not the same as the psychiatric use of the substance, which needs a prescription from a qualified medical professional in order to be used as a therapy for a particular disorder.
According to the Pacific Neuroscience Institute, ketamine therapy, also known as ketamine-assisted therapy, is a treatment for mental health conditions that employs “low doses of ketamine… for treatment-resistant depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” This could be done in conjunction with sessions with a psychotherapist, or it might not.
History of Ketamine Treatment Therapy
Ketamine treatment usage is not a recent phenomenon. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States approved its use as an anesthetic in the medical field, according to a published study. According to the review that was just read, the chemical, at certain doses, causes individuals to enter a dissociative state, has the ability to temporarily prevent pain, and is usually thought of as being safe. Despite the fact that there are always precautions to take and other things to think about (more about it in the next section),
A study released in 2020 in the journal Therapeutic Advances in Psychopharmacology says that ketamine treatment has grown to include psychological therapy. This is because of clinical research that has been done for many decades. This is most notably the case in treatment-resistant depression. Within three days of receiving an intravenous dosage of ketamine, the authors of one of the first papers that were published on this topic in the year 2000 saw a significant reduction in the severity of major depressive disorder symptoms. According to the authors of the study, further randomized controlled studies showed that ketamine was effective in treating treatment-resistant depression in anywhere between 60 and 70 percent of patients.
In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a new nasal spray called ketamine (Spravato), which is a type of ketamine. It can be used with an oral antidepressant to help people with major depressive disorder (MDD) who are depressed and have not responded to other treatments. Others, such as psilocybin (also known as “magic mushrooms”) and MDMA, are approved for use in mental healthcare in certain states or are in the process of seeking federal approval for specific psychiatric conditions, which will expand access to these psychedelics in clinical settings. This announcement details the first psychedelic-like drug to be approved for legal use.
Ketamine received FDA approval in 2020 for use in the treatment of depressive symptoms in people diagnosed with MDD who also had acute suicidal thoughts. To summarize, the only version of ketamine treatment that has received FDA approval for the treatment of mental health disorders is ketamine.
The Pig Even though they have not been officially recognized by the FDA, other forms of ketamine, such as oral and intravenous ketamine, are now commonly accessible via mental health clinics, ketamine centers, and online for at-home usage. However, all of these methods need a doctor’s prescription. Backing off of that, other forms of ketamine, including oral and intravenous ketamine, are now freely available. According to an editorial that was published in Missouri Medicine in 2023, the popularity of using ketamine at home among consumers has skyrocketed, despite the fact that these forms are still not authorized by the FDA.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued draft recommendations in June 2023 for clinical researchers in the area of psychedelic medicine. This might pave the way for more substances to join ketamine treatment in the domain of legally permissible psychedelic medicine. It refers to the practice of using psychedelic drugs with the intention of treating mental health conditions or addictions to other substances. The need for further standardized clinical trials on psychoactive drugs is one of the challenges, and the guideline provides advice on the research design as it relates to the drug development process for psychedelic medications. (This is presently in the form of a draft, and members of the public will have the opportunity to provide feedback before the final version is made available.)
How Ketamine Treatment Works
“Ketamine works on the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the brain to inhibit the effects of a neurotransmitter called glutamate,” explains Reid Robison, MD, a psychedelic psychiatrist and the chief clinical officer at Numinous, a company that offers psychedelic medicine, including ketamine therapy. Numinous is a business that provides services related to ketamine therapy.
According to Dr. Robison’s explanation, this mechanism is thought to enable neurons to make new connections and fire together in ways that generate novel pathways in the brain. This phenomenon is referred to as brain plasticity or neuroplasticity, and it is described in StatPearls. “The inability of the brain to form connections is one of the hallmarks of depression. In his professional expertise of treating patients, he has found that ketamine has the potential to “reboot” this function and “wake up the dormant, depressed brain pretty rapidly.”
Another potential benefit of the therapy is that it may turn off a stressed-out state in which the brain may become locked. According to Robison, who refers to studies conducted on animals, the phrase “lateral habenula burst activity” is the scientific description of this stressed-out condition. It has been shown that ketamine may inhibit this activity in sad rats and mice, activating reward regions that are associated with mood as a result. “Ketamine [may] hit a reset button in the brain and help people feel quite a bit better rather quickly,” he says, “although the effects of a single dose do not remain for an indefinite amount of time.” In order to properly understand the potential processes by which ketamine may function in people, more study is required.
Conclusion: Ketamine Treatment
how ketamine-assisted psychotherapy may work, in the sense that the medication would make it easier for someone to emotionally open up and modify their point of view. This client-therapist connection that develops with successive therapy and ketamine sessions may then encourage adherence to extra sessions to the treatment plan, which may then contribute to the overall efficacy of the treatment.
Robison adds, “We believe that the combination of medication and therapy is better,” and this is something that the team has come to believe. He likens the effects of ketamine to those of a bridge, saying that it may assist in bringing someone out of a crisis and allowing them to more effectively participate in treatment. “Think of ketamine as a therapy accelerator,” he adds. “That’s how you should approach it.” Then, during treatment, you will have the opportunity to discuss your experience and the lessons you’ve gained with a trained mental health practitioner.
You may be better able to make adjustments to your thinking patterns and lifestyle that, eventually, shift the needle toward greater mental health as a result of the drug’s propensity to boost brain plasticity.