What is ketamine-assisted therapy
August 8, 2022

What is Ketamine-Assisted Therapy, and How It Can Help with Depression, Anxiety, PTSD and Addictive Disorders?

Ketamine has been used in a medical setting for years, but only recently has been used in mental health treatment. There are a lot of misconceptions about its recreational use and therapeutic potential.Recently, ketamine is medically administered and combined with therapy, to improve mental health outcomes.    

Research on ketamine shows incredible promise in helping people overcome conditions like depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addictive disorders — especially when they haven’t found relief with other treatments.   

As we find ourselves in a mental health crisis (the WHO estimates 80 million people experience depression globally, making it the leading cause of disability), ketamine could be the solution we’ve been seeking.    

When combined with therapy, ketamine can profoundly improve mental health and quality of life. If ketamine-assisted therapy is something you’re interested in exploring, find out more about this treatment below.    

 

What Is Ketamine? 

 Ketamine is a synthetic pharmaceutical compound, which is a legal psychedelic substance when administered in a medical setting. While its original use was as an anesthetic and painkiller, studies show that a subanesthetic dose (smaller amount) coupled with therapy can be used as an intervention for chronic mental health conditions that have otherwise been treatment-resistant (hard to find relief).  

Thanks to its strong safety profile, efficacy, and widespread use, ketamine is listed on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines; its safety record has even made it a top choice in children’s medical practices.  

 

What is Ketamine-Assisted Therapy (KAT)?  

Ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT) doesn’t rely on the use of ketamine alone. Instead, it combines a controlled dose of ketamine (administered by a medical practitioner in a health care setting) while working one-on-one with a therapist.   

Proper medical administration of ketamine produces a psychoactive effect (a drug that can impact mood, thought, awareness feelings or behaviour) that allows you to experience non-ordinary states of consciousness ( a state where the mind can be aware but is not in the usual awake state, something like being half asleep). Entering these states can help you revisit memories and confront challenges affecting your mental health, while the ketamine protects you from feeling the intensity of emotional pain.   

By acknowledging these memories and challenges, you can begin to take the needed steps with your therapist to work through painful experiences, gain new perspectives, and move forward on your healing journey.   

KAT considers the entire patient journey — from intake (working with a therapist to review your medical history and ensure KAT is right for you), to adequate preparation and what to expect, to integration support (making sense of the experience), and to ongoing care after your treatment is complete.  

  

Who Is It For, and What Treatment-Resistant Conditions Can It Help? 

KAT is for most people with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, and addictive disorders, particularly when other treatments (for example, antidepressant medication and traditional talk therapy) have not been successful.  

How? For example, with depression, standard antidepressants focus on serotonin neurotransmitter receptors, which are not the source of all depression. Research shows that ketamine interacts with Glutamate receptors and increases their neuroplasticity. When the neuroplasticity of Glutamate improves, the brain is better able to learn and alter its emotional state. Check out more research on ketamine here 

Other conditions under review for treatment with KAT include eating disorders, and pain management. Some conditions make an individual ineligible for KAT, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. 

 

How Does Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Work, and What Can I Expect During a Session?   

Ketamine can be administered via intravenous infusion (IV), ad intramuscular injection (IM), nasal sprays, and rapid dissolving tablets; at Numinus, we currently use nasal sprays and tablets. After taking a rigorous, client-centred approach to determine whether KAT is the appropriate treatment for your situation, your medical team will work with you to find the correct dosage.   

The physical and emotional effects of ketamine will differ from person to person; however, common experiences include:

  • Altered states of consciousness and feeling separated from reality 
  • Disruption of negative feelings 
  • Relaxation of ordinary concerns and usual mindset 
  • A sense of euphoria 
  • A dream-like or “floating” sensation  
  • An altered sense of time (losing track of time; time slowing down or speeding up) 
  • Diminished or altered body sensations; some people may have an “out-of-body” experience, where awareness of the physical body is reduced 
  • Tunnel vision, or seeing things through a fog 
  • Pain reduction 
  • Mild changes in perceptions of sounds and sights  

It’s also possible to have uncomfortable feelings or suppressed traumas arise. Safety and care are the top priorities of our team members, and your therapists will be there to support you as you navigate any challenging experiences.  

Our rooms for ketamine dosing sessions have been intentionally designed to ensure your comfort and support your journey. You may choose to be in a reclined or semi-reclined position, wear eyeshades, and listen to music to enhance the experience.  

  

What Makes Ketamine-Assisted Therapy At Numinus Unique?  

 Our approach to KAT focuses on our client’s needs. Our therapists are trained under our in-house protocols, guided by the latest research-based evidence, and are thought-leaders in the psychedelic space.  

During a KAT session with Numinus, you will be accompanied by a Registered Nurse, who will be monitoring your vitals, as well as your therapist, who will be prioritizing safety, harm reduction and ensuring proper integration. You will also be assigned a Personal Health Navigator who will be there to support and guide you throughout your entire KAT journey.  

 

How Can I Experience Ketamine-Assisted Therapy? 

Numinus offers KAT at all our clinics. If you are at a crossroads on your mental health journey and want to inquire about more information or book a session, schedule an info call to see if Ketamine-Assisted Therapy is the right fit for you.   

 

Disclaimer 

 This article in no way promotes, condones, or facilitates illegal activity, and is strictly for educational and harm reduction purposes only. Please be aware that certain psychedelic substances still remain illegal in many jurisdictions, including Canada. This program and the contents of this website do not constitute medical advice, and are not a substitute for professional medical advice and treatment.