What is Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
Ketamine is an FDA-approved anesthetic drug used frequently in hospital settings. In significantly smaller doses, although not FDA-approved, ketamine has a powerful effect on depression and suicidal thoughts.
Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) is a mental health treatment that combines IV ketamine treatments administered by an MD and talk therapy from a licensed psychotherapist. KAP takes advantage of the open, curious state induced during ketamine treatment, and utilizes targeted psychotherapy to create new neural pathways for patients that have struggled with Major Depressive Disorder or PTSD, often for years.
Breakthru Psychiatric Solutions offers highly personalized KAP treatments.
IV ketamine IV (intravenous) ketamine treatment delivers a customized dose of ketamine directly into your bloodstream with an infusion that lasts 40 - 60 minutes. Ketamine works quickly to reduce negative feelings and boost your mood. Its fast-acting effects offer an advantage over many psychiatric medications, which typically take 4-6 weeks to start working.
IV ketamine often induces a trance-like or dissociative state which is ideal for creating new thoughts and feelings and inspiring new neural pathways. In the days after ketamine treatment, the brain is in a neuroplastic state; meaning new neural connections have been created. This is the optimal time to engage in psychotherapy, as you will more easily be able to make breakthroughs with your therapist.
Who might benefit from Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
KAP can be an effective treatment for patients struggling with:
- Treatment Resistant Depression
- Major Depressive Disorder
- Major Depressive Disorder with suicidal ideation
- Major Depressive Disorder with anxiety
- Bipolar depression
- Eating disorders
*Dr. Giles does not do medication management. KAP offers an innovative option for patients with moderate to severe depression, treatment-resistant depression, and depression with anxiety who have not responded to medication and/or talk therapy alone.
What does ketamine-assisted psychotherapy involve?
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy will begin with meeting with a KAP-certified therapist to discuss what issues you want to address and your goals with psychotherapy.
Next, you will have your ketamine appointment with Dr. Giles. IV ketamine infusions involve placing a needle in an arm vein. The needle attaches to a tube called a catheter, which in turn connects to a bag of ketamine solution. The ketamine drips steadily down the catheter and into your arm over 40-60 minutes. Dr. Giles uses doses of ketamine that are much lower than those used for anesthesia, so you will remain awake; however, you may notice mild dissociative feelings. You might experience side effects from your ketamine therapy such as mild nausea or dizziness. If you do, these feelings usually pass, however, if they are uncomfortable, Dr. Giles has medication to treat them. A qualified staff member supervises you at all times throughout the treatment.
Then, within 48-hours of your ketamine treatment, you will meet with a KAP-certified psychotherapist for a talk therapy session. This 48-hour window is key as your brain is still in an open state and easily able to connect new thoughts and create new neural pathways. Ketamine treatment allows patients to relax some of the barriers that can arise when talking about painful emotions or experiences creating the space for new levels of healing.
To find out how ketamine-assisted psychotherapy can improve your depression, call Breakthru Psychiatric Solutions today or request an appointment online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is ketamine-assisted psychotherapy covered by insurance?
IV ketamine is not covered by insurance since ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression.
What are common side effects?
Ketamine may cause mild side effects of nausea, headache, dizziness, increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and dissociation, which are temporary and only occur during infusion.
It is important to note, as with any practice that involves bringing up painful feelings and experiences, things can feel uncomfortable before they feel better. Your therapist will discuss this with you and make a plan if necessary.
How long am I in the clinic?
Most patients are in the clinic for 2 hours/IV ketamine treatment. Your talk therapy appointment will be scheduled within 48-hours of your ketamine treatment, and this appointment will last 50 minutes.
Can I drive home afterwards?
After IV ketamine treatment, you can’t drive home. You need someone to drive you home because ketamine can impair your reaction time. You will be able to drive home after your talk therapy appointment.
Is somebody with me for the entirety of the treatment?
Our clinical staff observes and supports our patients 100% of the time during treatments. Most patients request that clinicians are not in the room for the duration of treatment; however, patients are always continuously monitored.
Does a physician have to be present to administer ketamine?
In the state of Georgia, a physician must be present for all infusions. At Breakthru, not only is a physician present, but a psychiatrist is present for all infusions.
Can I do ketamine treatments at home?
In recent years, ketamine has exploded onto the mental health scene due in large part to a groundswell of positive scientific studies. However, not all forms of ketamine are equally effective or safe. Dr. Giles highlights the different forms of ketamine currently available and the current medical findings associated with taking ketamine at home in this blog post.