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Benefits of Ketamine Therapy

By Ashley Barnes, M.S.

Reviewed by: Mark Hrymoc, MD


Ketamine


Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that had previously been used as anesthesia during surgeries, especially in the Vietnam war. Due to ketamine’s safety profile, it is the most commonly used anesthetic worldwide; it also made the World Health Organization’s list of most effective and safe medications. Ketamine caught the attention of neuroscience researchers worldwide due to its miraculous benefits in treating treatment-resistant depression.


For the last two decades, Yale researchers have conducted “ketamine research by experimenting with using subanesthetic doses of ketamine delivered intravenously in controlled clinic settings for patients with severe depression who have not improved with standard antidepressant treatments. The results have been dramatic: In several studies, more than half of participants show a significant decrease in depression symptoms after just 24 hours. These are patients who felt no meaningful improvement on other antidepressant medications” (Yale Medicine, 2022).


How Ketamine Therapy Works


Researchers have discovered psychological benefits stemming from ketamine’s ability to trigger glutamate production in the brain. Glutamate is a neurotransmitter that has a key role in neural communication, learning, and the formation of memory. This increased glutamate production prompts a series of complex neurological processes, ultimately leading to the formation of new neural connections (Yale Medicine, 2022).


The significance of these new neural connections resides in the resulting opportunities to form more positive thoughts and behaviors. There is a phrase in the neuroscience world that “neurons that fire together, wire together,” meaning that the neural pathways in the brain are formed and reinforced through repetition.


Thus, a depressed brain will have neural connections that create negative thought patterns, such as “life is hopeless.” With the help of ketamine, new neural pathways can form, such that the previous negative thought pattern could move more towards “life is hopeful,” ideally.


Benefits of Ketamine Therapy


Ketamine Therapy can have the following positive impacts on mental health:

  • Reduce symptoms of depression - A wealth of research demonstrates this benefit. The results of a clinical study published in 2022 found that 89% of participants in the study experienced improvement in symptoms of both anxiety and depression with 63% of participants experiencing more than a 50% reduction in depression symptoms (Hull, et. al, 2022).

  • Form new neural pathways - People struggling with depression often experience a negative inner dialogue that colors how they view the world and themselves. Research indicates that the administration of ketamine cultivates neuroplasticity in the brain, creating opportunities for new neural connections to form. With new neural connections, new and more positive thought patterns can be created.

  • Reduce suicidal ideation - One of the darkest symptoms of depression is suicidal ideation. Those struggling with suicidal ideation may have thoughts of being better off dead, engage in self-harm, and make attempts to take their own life. In a recent study, ketamine was found to reduce suicidal ideation in 64% of patients who participated in the study. Ketamine has been researched to reduce suicidal ideation with 64% of patients (Hull, et. al, 2022).

  • Catalyze Therapeutic Progress - Ketamine can positively impact how our body and brain responds to triggers in our environment, as it stimulates new neural connections to grow and form. This can be especially impactful for survivors of trauma who are working through trauma-related symptoms and responses. Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy is a process where ketamine is used to enhance and deepen the healing experience while a patient is having a psychotherapy session. The unique mental state that Ketamine Therapy creates can help enhance patients’ feelings of comfort and safety when working through trauma, which is essential in successful treatment.

  • Integrate Insights Into Daily Life - Many people gain important insights from their Ketamine Therapy experience. With the help of Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy, self-reflection, and self-care, patients can translate the insights gained to tangible action as they move towards a better life. This action may look like venturing out of your comfort zone, cultivating relationships, or slowing down to enjoy the simple pleasures of life. When insight is paired with action, real and lasting positive change becomes reality.

Ketamine Therapy Center

Ketamine Therapy Center is a treatment branch from the Mental Health Center that specializes in ketamine infusion therapy. We plan to offer even more types of psychedelic treatments when it is permissible to do so, as we believe in evidence-based treatment approaches that have the power to transform one’s life.


Our doctors offer Ketamine Therapy Evaluations to thoroughly assess patients for ketamine therapy candidacy; from here, they collaborate with patients to develop treatment plans. Our office in the Cedars- Sinai Medical Office towers houses rooms specially designed for patient comfort. Our highly experienced and talented nurses are well-versed in ketamine infusion therapy and help patients feel comfortable as they move through the treatment process. Our therapists are trained in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy and offer therapeutic guidance to enhance the psychological benefit of the treatment while simultaneously creating a grounded and safe space.


For more information, please do not hesitate to explore our website or contact our office!



References


Hull, T. D. et. al, (2022). At-home, sublingual ketamine telehealth is a safe and effective treatment for moderate to severe anxiety and depression: Findings from a large, prospective, open-label effectiveness trial. Journal of Affective Disorders. Volume 314, 1 October 2022, Pages 59-67. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0165032722007625?via%3Dihub#s0085


Yale Medicine. (2022). How ketamine drug helps with depression. Yale Medicine. Retrieved January 19, 2023, from https://www.yalemedicine.org/news/ketamine-depression

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