Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy
To Help With
Anxiety and PTSD
Ketamine facilitates an experiential shift in perspective that can allow a person to view traumatic experiences objectively and open awareness to create a deeper connection with the self as well as “that which is greater than the self”. In addition to stimulating brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and providing a “reboot” to the brain, our goal is to facilitate an experience that, combined with psychotherapy, helps one find meaning in the traumatic experience and find a way to revisit and work through a traumatic event.
Treatment Resistant Depression, PTSD, severe anxiety, and drug and alcohol addiction have all been theorized, up until recently, to simply be due to chemical imbalances in the brain. But it’s much more complicated than that. Newer research is looking at the electrical signaling of the brain that impacts neurotransmitter concentrations and the role of inflammation on the brain. Ketamine’s ability to “re-boot” the brain and stimulate the production of brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is believed to impact neuroplasticity. This neuroplasticity is what can allow a person to break a repetitive cycle long enough to have a chance to do the impactful work that can put a person on a new path to living. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hNsIiq-5354
Yes. You can and should continue to take your prescribed medication. Though some people find that they can reduce their prescription meds or eliminate some altogether, it can be dangerous to stop taking your medications without the care of your doctor or therapist. People have the best outcomes when they combine ketamine infusions with psychotherapy.
Unfortunately, we cannot give guarantee that this will work for you. Studies have shown that 70% of people with Treatment resistant depression will find relief. After the first 3 infusions, if you are not experiencing any improvement, we will work with you on staying the course, increasing the dosage of the infusion, or decide to stop the series.
Unfortunately, there are no predictors for the duration of antidepressant effect after the initial loading series. Everyone is different. The studies show that the variance can be 2 weeks to indefinitely.
Anyone with a history of uncontrolled high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney disease, a history of psychosis, or bipolar disorder, history of failed Ketamine infusion treatment, current substance abuse or dependence (patients will undergo a screening process) will not qualify for Ketamine infusion treatments. People with a history of interstitial cystitis (bladder inflammation) will require further screening and preparation.
Less than 2% of people will experience side effects. However, some common side effects are: drowsiness, nausea, dizziness, poor coordination, blurred vision, and feeling strange or unreal. Most of these symptoms go away within an hour of the infusion
Studies have shown that at infusion doses and frequency, Ketamine is not addictive. The drug itself does not cause physiological “addiction” but, people can become habituated to the experience.
For those who meet the DSM criteria for depression who have tried at least two different classes of traditional antidepressants and found them to be ineffective, the recommended initial “Induction Series” of six low-dose ketamine infusions is administered in an effort to break the cycle. Most clinical trials have consistently shown a 70% success rate with this approach. The treatment does require booster infusions as time passes to keep the effect going. These single “booster infusions” are given at varied intervals for the same 40-60 minute duration, but are single infusions rather than in a series. However, at Altasano, depending on your experience while receiving a ketamine infusion for treatment resistant depression (TRD), we may progressively increase or decrease the doses outside of the “NIH Protocol” in order to optimize the experiential therapeutic effect of Ketamine.
At Altasano, ketamine infusions are administered through an IV, with an infusion pump over 40-60 minutes. Intramuscular ketamine is a popular route of administration for those who may not be as comfortable with IVs, however receiving ketamine IM, means that the dosing and effect is less predictable and it cannot be stopped. Once an IM dose is given, the drug must take its course. Whereas, with an IV route, the infusion can be given slowly and the effects can be dealt with gradually. The IV can also be stopped at any time.
IV Ketamine therapy remains the gold-standard of TRD treatment, however the FDA approved esketamine (Spravato) is an option. The drug is basically one half of the original ketamine molecule. The attempt was to split the drug to remove the “unwanted” psychedelic effects of the medicine. We understand that the concept of a transcendental experience is not part of mainstream Western medicine, but we are certain that the transcendental experiential effects of a ketamine infusion play an essential part of the treatment. The nasal delivery of the drug is certainly more desirable, however studies show that it may not be as effective, as dosing and absorption will be less precise. The benefit of FDA approval of esketamine is that, depending on your coverage, insurance companies may pay for its higher cost, estimated to be $1000 per dose. Spravato will not be dispensed to patients to take home like ketamine troches. It will only be available in approved and certified treatment centers.
Insurance companies do not usually pay for medications that are given for “off-label use”. “Off-Label” use of a medicine is very common actually. Think of the use of aspirin for people with heart disease. Aspirin was not originally made and tested for that use, but its chemical properties made it beneficial for people with heart disease. In the early 1960’s, the FDA approved Ketamine for anesthetic use. Further research on Ketamine in the 1990s began to focus attention on its therapeutic benefits on the treatment of chronic pain and because of its benefits, many insurance companies cover the costs of ketamine infusions when given for pain. Many studies looking at the benefits of ketamine for mental health issues have been published, but currently the FDA has not approved Ketamine for the treatment of depression or other mental health issues. This may change in the near future.
Yes, Ketamine is safe when used responsibly. Ketamine does not slow down vital bodily functions such as respiration rate. Ketamine can increase blood pressure and heart rate for some patients, but this is a very temporary and transient effect. Like so many drugs, Ketamine has also been abused. We collaborate closely with your own mental health provider and require you to have one throughout treatment. Comprehensive centers, like Altasano, place a priority on your bodily health and as well as your mental well-being. LEARN MORE
Ketamine is a drug that has been used for over 50 years, traditionally as an anesthetic by anesthesia providers, emergency physicians and surgeons. In 1985, the World Health Organization added Ketamine to its list of essential medicines. In 1990’s, Yale University began studies on Ketamine and it’s use in psychiatry. In 2006, ketamine began being studied in its effects on treatment-resistant depression. A 2009 study of ketamine conducted by Price, Charney, Knock, and Matthew, showed a correlation between ketamine and the alleviation of depressive symptoms as well as a reduction in suicidal thoughts. Current studies are showing beneficial effects in other psychiatric disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and alcohol/substance abuse.
Ketamine inhibits the N-methyl D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in our central nervous system. This receptor is activated by a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Glutamate is found at excessive levels with stress, depression, and certain pain conditions. Blocking the effects from this excess can help alleviate symptoms.
Attention on ketamine in the treatment of severe treatment resistant depression, PTSD, postpartum depression, severe anxiety, and other mental health conditions, has made the pharmaceutical industry rethink its focus on traditional antidepressant medications. Although traditional medications have helped many people, for others, they just don’t work. Worse yet, suicidal ideation is a known side-effect of SSRIs, especially on younger populations.