Ketamine Assisted Therapy

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy

 

Ketamines have been long regarded as a psychedelic and only that. However, long before its recreational uses, it was used by anesthetists and psychologists to treat pain, used as anesthesia medication, and to fight depression. Even so, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy was a relatively little-known treatment option until recently.

In recent years, ketamine-assisted therapy has gained popularity as a promising treatment for various mental health conditions. More accurately, the efficiency of ketamine-assisted psychotherapy has been explored in more depth. The results are enough to turn the tide in favour of this medication.

At Victoria Wellness, a luxury residential mental health centre located in Gores Landing, Ontario, we believe in providing the best possible options to our patients. As such, ketamine-assisted therapy is offered to our clients in a luxurious and comfortable environment: an ideal setting for therapy sessions and mental healing.

However, before you choose to get the treatment, it is a good idea to learn more about Ketamines and KITE.

“***** I went for severe depression and participated in the KITE program. The ketamine sessions were a great opportunity for me to process the trauma I had experienced. The Ketamine assisted psychotherapy sessions were essential in my recovery. I would recommend Victoria Wellness to anyone who is suffering.”

Terri FrancisKetamine Assisted Therapy for Severe Depression

What Are Ketamines?

 

Ketamine is an anesthetic medication most commonly used in hospitals and emergency centers for pain and anesthesia. Medical professionals often opt for Ketamines due to their swift induction and pain-numbing properties.

Medically, the effects of Ketamine therapy is the “creation of dissociative anesthesia, amnesia, maintaining the respiratory drive, and sedation.” It is one of the earliest discovered anesthetic agents and has been used since then. In fact, the safety of Ketamine treatment was so relied upon that children’s hospitals used it during surgeries and in the ICU. 1

Ketamine works by blocking the N-Methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA), BDNF, and AMPA receptors. 2 However, the effect of the drug also causes synaptic plasticity.

It was first used in psychotherapy by a Mexican psychiatrist, Salvador Roquet, in the 1970s. Soon after, psychiatrists worldwide took an interest in the drug, however, the advancements were lost upon the arrival of newer medications.

Apart from taking away the pain, it creates what doctors call “dissociative anesthesia.” It is a state where a person goes through a “dream-like” state and feels disconnected from the environment around them. Due to this trance-like state, Ketamine therapy has occasionally been used as a recreational drug. However, when used in a controlled environment and at the appropriate dose, it can be useful in stabilizing the mind and for treatment-resistant depression.

How Does It Work?

 

The treatments work primarily by blocking certain receptors and increasing the production of glutamate. Glutamate is a crucial neurotransmitter in our brain that is essential for learning and memory.

It wasn’t until a few years ago that researchers found it worked as an antidepressant. Although doctors were already using it for treatment-resistant depression and as an anti-suicidal medication, understanding how the medication works explains how it has a far better outcome than other traditional drugs.

In 2020, research that was conducted at the University of Alberta, Canada, found that Ketamine therapy demonstrates its clinical effects within 2–4 hours of giving it. That in itself is amazing, but the key finding was in the duration. They found that Ketamine’s antidepressant properties last anywhere from 1 week (after one infusion) to 18–19 days (after repeated infusions). 3 The study also concluded that ketamine treatments worked on unipolar, bipolar, anxious/non-anxious depression, PTSD, and most major depressive disorders.

Ketamine-assisted therapy works using the dissociative effect. Most current methods give emphasis on the “set and setting” of the therapy. 9 Meaning the psychiatrist considers the patient’s preparedness for the therapy, mental health before therapy, and the overall environment to predict how patients respond to the drug.

Ketamine-assisted therapy works by altering some of the brain’s neurochemistry levels to help the patient get out of the constant despair and chronic pain. Most mental conditions work in such a way that it is difficult for patients to leave the mental spiral. This therapy induces a mental state dissociated from the body, which allows patients to receive the full benefits of therapy.

The brain’s AMPA receptors, which are essential for synaptic plasticity, are also activated. By rewiring the brain and forming new neural pathways, this drug lessens the symptoms of mental health illnesses.

When the patient receives a tiny dosage via IV infusion during a session of ketamine-assisted therapy, the drug starts its effects within a few minutes. The infusion is normally given over the course of 45 to 60 minutes and is monitored closely.

This treatment is an “experience-oriented” branch of psychiatric treatment. 10 In the researcher’s own words, “The patient’s experiences under (ketamine) drug effects can be considered meaningful and potentially insightful material, which can then be utilized in collaboration with the therapist to facilitate therapeutic progress” 11

This approach combines Ketamines and therapy to provide a unique experience. The out-of-body experience is key here since it allows access to deep states of consciousness, allowing the therapist to explore and work through underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to their mental health condition.

As the patient reaches a more favorable state of consciousness, the psychiatrist/therapist guides them through their condition using a variety of techniques best suited to the patient’s condition.

Another mode of treatment is using time after the period of acute drug effects.

This method is based on the fact that since the drug creates a duration of enhanced neuroplasticity (the time when the brain is more malleable or susceptible to suggestion), that allows for more accessible cognitive and behavioral interventions. 12

Using the effect of the medication to increase the benefits of therapy reduces the time required for complete healing, all the while smoothening the journey for the patient.

What Does Ketamine Assisted Therapy Treat?

 

Ketamine-assisted therapy is used to treat PTSD, Addiction, Depression, and Treatment-Resistant Depression. Practitioners use ketamine for anxiety, because it often leaves people caught in a tangle of confusing and painful emotions.

The antidepressant effects of treatments in our KITE program can have a positive effect on the stress response, traumatic memory, and physical symptoms of trauma. A recent study showed 75% of participants experienced improved mood four hours after their first session.

Ketamine for depression can be a useful alternative for “treatment-resistant” depression. For some, traditional treatments just don’t work. Clients may benefit from ketamine’s short-acting, long-lasting benefits, even after a single dose.

Research done with real patients also shows that about 44% of the patients with multiple co-morbidities and ultra-resistant depression improved after receiving six intravenous ketamine treatments. 4

Ketamines also work and are used regularly to treat patients with suicidal tendencies. It helps to increase both sleep duration and quality, as well as improving the circadian rhythm.

Surprisingly, Ketamine therapy also has a positive cognitive effect. Although a therapeutic dose of Ketamine creates drowsiness and anesthesia, a lower dose improves the patient’s cognitive ability. 5 This effect works on the hippocampus, which is also the site of many mental health conditions.

Ketamine has also been recorded to improve different domains of memory in patients with depression, including visual and verbal learning, attention, and processing speed. 6

An unexpected benefit of Ketamine treatments are its metabolic effect. Researchers agree that most patients with mood disorders also struggle with hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and hyperglycemia: all leading to metabolic syndrome.

These metabolic conditions are tied to high inflammatory reactions or high C-reactive protein. Depressive patients who have high C-RP are 38% more likely to develop metabolic cognition than others. Not only that, studies find that how the patient will respond to antidepressants somewhat depends on the inflammatory markers in their blood. 7

Ketamine treatments, in addition to the anti-depressant effects, also exert anti-inflammatory effects. Hence, it breaks the negative effect on inflammatory markers and reduces the risk of metabolic syndrome.

Lastly, and part of the reason why Ketamines have become popular in mass media recently, is the use of Ketamines for addiction, specifically in treating cocaine addiction. 8 Because Ketamine targets several Cocaine User Disorder-associated genes, it was determined, by Artificial intelligence, experts, and as seen in real-life settings, to be the best option for treating cocaine abuse/dependence.

Ketamine therapy has been approved as a treatment for depression and drug-resistant depression. It’s also approved for use with anxiety, PTSD.

 

Inpatient Ketamine Therapy Retreat one hour east of Toronto at Victoria Wellness - Row of Stones in calm water

Ketamine for Depression

 

IV ketamine is well-known as an effective depression treatment. It’s helpful for reducing general depression symptoms, as well as suicidal thinking. It also helps people who struggle to feel pleasure, a key feature of bipolar disorder.

IV ketamine treataments can be a useful alternative for “treatment-resistant” depression. This means that even people who haven’t had success with traditional depression treatment may benefit from the method. It’s short-acting, and its benefits can last for a long time, even after a single dose.

Ketamine IV treatments combined with talk therapy allow clients to explore the emotions, memories, and experiences that tie them to addiction and the accompanying emotional and mental difficulties. Because of its effectiveness within just a few sessions, this therapy is becoming more widely available.

What makes our treatments so effective at Victoria Wellness is how they are intertwined with our evidence-based therapies and our holistic treatment process.

In conclusion, it has to be said that ketamine-assisted therapy has redefined how we view psychotherapy. With the help of safe, non-addictive drugs like Ketamine, our therapists help our patients face their mental health challenges with strength, integrity, and confidence.

How Does It Work?

 

Ketamine-assisted therapy works using the dissociative effect of Ketamine. Most current methods give emphasis on the “set and setting” of the therapy. 9 Meaning the psychiatrist considers the patient’s preparedness for the therapy, mental health before therapy, and the overall environment to predict how patients respond to the drug.

Ketamine-assisted therapy works by altering some of the brain’s neurochemistry levels to help the patient get out of the constant despair and chronic pain. Most mental conditions work in such a way that it is difficult for patients to leave the mental spiral. Ketamines induce a mental state dissociated from the body, which allows patients to receive the full benefits of therapy.

The brain’s AMPA receptors, which are essential for synaptic plasticity, are also activated by Ketamines. By rewiring the brain and forming new neural pathways, this drug lessens the symptoms of mental health illnesses.

When the patient receives a tiny dosage of Ketamine via IV infusion during a session of ketamine-assisted therapy, the drug starts its effects within a few minutes. The infusion is normally given over the course of 45 to 60 minutes and is monitored closely.

Ketamine treatment is an “experience-oriented” branch of psychiatric treatment. 10 In the researcher’s own words, “The patient’s experiences under (ketamine) drug effects can be considered meaningful and potentially insightful material, which can then be utilized in collaboration with the therapist to facilitate therapeutic progress” 11

This approach combines Ketamine and therapy to provide a unique experience. The out-of-body experience is key here since it allows access to deep states of consciousness, allowing the therapist to explore and work through underlying emotional issues that may be contributing to their mental health condition.

As the patient reaches a more favorable state of consciousness, the psychiatrist/therapist guides them through their condition using a variety of techniques best suited to the patient’s condition.

Another mode of treatment using Ketamines is using time after the period of acute drug effects.

This method is based on the fact that since Ketamine creates a duration of enhanced neuroplasticity (the time when the brain is more malleable or susceptible to suggestion), that allows for more accessible cognitive and behavioral interventions. 12

Using the effect of the medication to increase the benefits of therapy reduces the time required for complete healing, all the while smoothening the journey for the patient.

What Are The Benefits?

 

From our discussion above, it’s apparent that ketamine is an effective drug of choice to treat mood disorders, depression, PTSD, addictions, bipolar disease, and other mental health conditions, especially when combined with therapy.

Here are the benefits of ketamine-assisted therapy over other therapeutic options:

  • Privacy and comfort: Can be availed in the privacy and comfort of a private setting. The experience of getting the drug is often described as pleasant and dreamlike, eliminating fears and anxiety of extreme experiences.
  • Access to the subconscious: Allows us to peek into our subconscious without necessarily having to experience the feelings ourselves. In a normal, regular state, we have sets of defences in place. These defences are even stronger for those suffering from mental health conditions. Usually, when a specific emotion is triggered, pain, panic, or similar reactions are triggered. The treatment helps in somewhat bypassing that therefore increasing the depth of therapy.
  • Rapid Relief: Works very fast. It can be used in severe episodes of PTSD, anxiety, and depression.
  • Results that last: The effects can endure for weeks or even months after the initial dose, unlike standard antidepressants, which can take several weeks to start functioning.
  • Safe and reliable: People with mental health disorders have a safe and effective treatment option in ketamine-assisted therapy. It has received substantial research and has proven to be successful in easing anxiety, and depressive symptoms. A growing body of research supports the use of IV ketamines for PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder. The anti-anxiety and antidepressant effects can have a positive effect on the stress response, traumatic memory, and physical symptoms of trauma.  A study showed 75% improved their mood 4 hours after their first session.
  • Ketamine Therapy for Depression: IV ketamine is well-known as an effective depression treatment. It’s helpful for reducing general depression symptoms, as well as suicidal thinking. It also helps people who struggle to feel pleasure, a key feature of bipolar disorder.
  • Treatment Resistant Depression: IV infusions can be a useful alternative for “treatment-resistant” depression. This means that even people who haven’t had success with traditional depression treatment may benefit from the method. It’s short-acting, and its benefits can last for a long time, even after a single dose.
  • It is non-addictive, in contrast to many other drugs used to treat mental health conditions. As a result, it is a secure and practical choice for those who are worried about the possibility of addiction.
  • Increased Quality of Life: By lowering the symptoms of anxiety, depression, and PTSD, ketamine-assisted therapy can increase the quality of life for persons with mental health issues. This can result in better communication between people, more output, and an overall higher quality of life.

Why KITE – Ketamine Integrated Therapy Experience?

 

Any good therapy is better than none of course. Our in-patient residential treatment is much more immersive, a retreat-like intensive. The anti-depressant effects of our therapies help you reset, practice, and be totally free to focus on yourself, without the usual people, places, and distractions, including electronics. There is also the offering and accepting of support from fellow health seekers and being in beautiful natural surroundings which have been found to be inherently inspiring and uplifting.

We believe that with our comprehensive holistic range of treatments, we can achieve the best possible results currently available by combining integrated, evidence-based methods along with those only accessible via Ketamine-induced “non-ordinary states of consciousness”.

Victoria Wellness is a residential mental health retreat and inpatient ketamine clinic with treatment programs, holistic therapies, and a personal wellness plan. Specialized ketamine therapy Toronto, one hour east of the city, twenty minutes west of Cobourg and Port Hope in the heart of Northumberland County. Located in picturesque Gores Landing on the shores of Rice Lake.

Who Is Eligible for Ketamine Treatments?

 

In general, most people are good candidates for doses of ketamine. A few conditions require special consideration and MAY make someone ineligible for this specific treatment, such as:

  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • Certain serious heart conditions
  • History of Bipolar Mania, hallucinations due to schizophrenia, and severe dissociative disorders such as multiple personality disorder

Otherwise, most medications do not negatively interact with Ketamine Treatments, including antidepressants, mood stabilizers, and medications used to treat common health conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

We are leaders in the field of mental health recovery.

 

Our clients are able to move past recovery and be recovered.  As part of our 45-day or longer residential treatment program, your treatment can be combined with our evidence-based therapies as well as our holistic offerings for a more comprehensive transformational process. You can get better and you can start at Victoria Wellness!

Victoria Wellness is a residential mental health retreat and inpatient ketamine clinic with treatment programs, holistic therapies, and a personal wellness plan. Specialized ketamine therapy Toronto, one hour east of the city, twenty minutes west of Cobourg and Port Hope in the heart of Northumberland County. Located in picturesque Gores Landing on the shores of Rice Lake.