Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy for Depression
Millions of people deal with depression that does not respond well to the first line of treatments offered. They struggle with trying to find the right combination of therapy and medication, often suffering for a long period of time while doing so. Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy for Depression provides relief for many who suffer from treatment-resistant depression. Wave Treatment Center in Philadelphia offers ketamine treatment for depression, allowing people who may have given up hope for feeling better a real chance at relief from their symptoms.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine was originally developed as an anesthetic and used to treat injured soldiers in the Vietnam War era and later for surgical procedures on children on whom it is still used today. Since then, it has been shown to be effective when used by individuals who have treatment-resistant depression. It can also be used to treat anxiety, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In some cases, ketamine also helps conditions such as fibromyalgia and chronic pain.
For people whose depression does not respond to typical medications, ketamine can be a real game-changer. Many people who previously had given up on finding relief for their depression find that ketamine provides help for their treatment-resistant depression they could not achieve in the past. Ketamine also proves effective for many in reducing and eliminating suicidal feelings.
Ketamine and its mirror-image molecule esketamine (Spravato™) work differently from traditional antidepressants as they do not directly influence the monoamines serotonin, dopamine and norepinephrine. Multiple studies over the past twenty years have shown how effective ketamine can be. This has led to the FDA approving esketamine for depression and suicidal thinking. Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, affecting millions. Harvard Medical School reports that in the United States, 16 million adults have at least one episode of major depression annually. Finding a relatively new approach to treating depression, such as ketamine, changes the lives of a lot of people. It also impacts their loved ones when the person they care about who suffers from depression and any accompanying suicidal thoughts begins to heal. For those who deal with thoughts of suicide, having that burden lifted gives them a greater ability to focus on other parts of their treatment.
Ketamine is administered in a physician’s office, clinic or hospital. Ketamine is in a pharmacologic class known as “dissociative anaesthetic” which means that it produces decreased sensation and sedation which is sometimes described as “dream-like” or “a waking dream” because there is a subjective experience of being outside of yourself. Depending on the dosage and intensity, this experience can be unsettling if you are not prepared for it; that is why subanesthetic (lower) doses are given for depression. There are several ways to administer ketamine: a troche (pronounced troh-key) which is an oral lozenge, a nasal spray, an intramuscular injection or an intravenous injection into the bloodstream. Depending on the route of administration, patients will have differing experiences which can be considered and discussed during the evaluation process. In some cases, it is practical and appropriate to have a medically monitored ketamine experience by itself. For a more interactive therapeutic process, a qualified psychotherapist can provide talk-therapy while the patient is under the influence of ketamine; this is known as Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy or K.A.P. The details of this technique are best explained during a pre-ketamine psychotherapy session or sessions. Regardless of the protocol used for ketamine or K.A.P. the patient should expect to remain in the physician’s office for 2 hours before being discharged. Arrangements are made ahead of time for a ride home after ketamine treatment as you cannot drive the same day of treatment. Ketamine/K.A.P. for depression can be used as a stand-alone treatment or in conjunction with other treatment options, such as other forms of therapy, medications or transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Treatment protocols are tailored to specific clinical needs but are generally two to three times per week for approximately two to four weeks before spreading out the treatments over longer intervals.
Relief from the symptoms of depression can happen in as little as a few hours; a huge difference from waiting for traditional prescription drugs to take effect. Those types of drugs can take several weeks to become fully effective, while the much quicker relief ketamine can offer helps people begin to manage their symptoms of depression in a more timely fashion. The trained clinician who oversees the process will monitor the patient for signs of progress, and the option to have additional sessions as part of a maintenance treatment can be discussed.
The positive effects of ketamine-assisted therapy can last a few days or a few weeks, and after the completion of a series of sessions, some people find a reduction in their depressive thoughts and feelings becomes permanent. How long the effects last depends on the patient’s individual brain chemistry (physiology), their family history, the level of self-care they engage in, and other factors.
Many insurance companies recognize the value that ketamine offers people who deal with depression and suicidal thoughts and provide coverage for it. If you decide to use ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, contact your insurance company first and ask if they cover it. Pre-approval of the sessions may be required by some companies and they may only cover certain preparations such as Spravato or they may cover the psychotherapy but not the ketamine.
Be sure to check with any treatment facility you are considering receiving ketamine treatment from to make sure they take your insurance. If they don’t, they can help explain their fees for treatment and any other options available to pay for it.
Possible Side Effects from Taking Ketamine
Not everyone who engages in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for depression experiences any side effects, but some may occur. These can include:
- High blood pressure
- Feeling light-headed
- Rapid heartbeat
- Blurry vision
- Mild dissociation
Some people experience nausea but this can be prevented by using anti-nausea medication during treatment.
If you need help treating depression, we can help. We offer the latest in options for ketamine-assisted psychotherapy for depression that can help you turn the corner when it comes to depression treatment in Philadelphia. Contact Wave Treatment Centers today and find out how we help people suffering from depression, other mental health conditions, and addiction. Call 215-242-0420 now and we will be happy to answer any questions you have.