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Depression
January 18, 2021

What is Ketamine Therapy?

by Keith Heinzerling

Ketamine is approved for use at high doses as an anesthetic in the operating room. Although not FDA-approved, lower dose “sub-anesthetic” ketamine injections are used “off-label” to treat depression, pain, and other mental health/substance use disorders. 

In recent times, there have been many factors contributing to increased depression across wide populations. There are several medications available for depression, anxiety, and substance use disorders which involve daily administration of a medication aimed at correction of neurochemical imbalances via action at specific brain receptors (e.g. serotonin, dopamine, mu opioid).

Effects of Ketamine

In contrast, using a psychedelic-assisted therapy model with ketamine produces a short-lived but intense subjective experience—the mystical or peak experience—which triggers or elicits an afterglow, accompanied by a subsequent positive change in affect, insight, motivation, cognition, and behavior.

Graph of TRIP pyschedelic assisted therapy at PNI

The potential for mystical experiences to produce rapid, profound, and sustained changes in insight, mood, behavior, and consciousness was recognized and first used by indigenous cultures in shamanic and other healing rituals. Psychedelic-assisted therapies for treating behavioral health disorders was studied extensively and safely in approximately 40,000 patients in North America in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Patients with depression, anxiety, PTSD, end-of-life distress, chronic pain, drug/alcohol problems, and other conditions may be eligible for psychedelic-assisted therapy with ketamine. 

TRIP pyschedelic assisted therapy at PNI

Usually ketamine treatment includes one or a few in-clinic ketamine dosing sessions under clinician supervision integrated with preparatory and integration counseling.

By harnessing the potential psychedelic effects of ketamine, the aim is to achieve more sustained results with fewer ketamine treatments compared to IV ketamine infusions without accompanying psychotherapy. 

The new year could include tackling and shedding some difficult issues and making a fresh start in 2021.

For more information on ketamine treatment call: 310-582-7612

About the Author

Keith Heinzerling, MD

Keith Heinzerling

Dr. Keith Heinzerling practices internal medicine and is an addiction medicine specialist at the Pacific Brain Health Center, Pacific Neuroscience Institute. His research and clinical focuses are on the discovery, development, and dissemination of anti-addiction medications.

Last updated: February 23rd, 2021