If you saw Dr. Wiet on Good Things Utah on September 26, you know she discussed non-traditional therapy tools like Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy for people struggling with treatment-resistant mental issues. We had many calls at Sovegna after Dr. Wiet’s appearance asking for more information about ketamine, so we thought we’d follow up with this article to answer any questions you might have – and tell you why Sovegna’s ketamine protocol is different.
“This unique treatment is like a 'reset button' on the neuro-immune system and stimulates neurogenesis, which stimulates health.” - Susie Wiet, MD
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is classified as a dissociative anesthetic, which causes a sense of disconnection from one’s ordinary reality and usual self. Ketamine was approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic agent in 1970. It is a Schedule III medication that has long been used safely as an anesthetic and analgesic agent. For the last 20 years, ketamine has been used as an off-label (not approved by the FDA) treatment for many mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, PTSD, and suicidal ideation. Treatment doses for the ketamine protocol series are substantially lower than that for anesthesia.
Ketamine is assumed to act on the NMDA brain receptors of the glutamate neurotransmitter system, although there is no absolute scientific consensus. This is a very different pathway than that addressed by most other psychiatric medications. Ketamine causes physical growth in the prefrontal cortex (associated with emotion regulation and mental health) and establishes new connections between neurons and repairs damaged cells. Through the NMDA pathway receptors, ketamine can also influence the immune system, which can provide immediate and substantial relief from tortuous thoughts, emotions, and chronic pain associated with inflammation. These symptoms are often brought on by long-term depression, post-traumatic stress, suicidal thoughts, and addiction-relapse. Ketamine can dramatically improve the experience of these disorders and related symptoms.
Who should consider Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy?
Generally, people who are eligible include those with:
severe depression that has not responded to prior trials of medication
post-traumatic stress disorder
limited chronic pain conditions
history of addiction relapse
Most adults who consider ketamine have already tried many avenues of medication treatment and health-supporting activities, such as talk therapy, journaling and meditation, or physical exercise. Many have experienced mild or episodic changes in their symptoms and may seek ketamine treatment for sustained or greatly improved relief.
On occasion, certain clients may not be suitable for ketamine treatment due to underlying medical and/or psychiatric risks. Eligibility will be determined based on clinical assessment by our psychiatrist and/or licensed clinical therapist and medical history and exam by our internal medicine physician.
The Sovegna Difference
Many ketamine clinics will have patients sit in a reclining chair and will hook up electrodes, a pulse oximeter, and a blood pressure cuff to monitor vital signs. An IV will be inserted into the arm to administer the ketamine, relaxing music will be played, and the lights are dimmed during the 45-minute infusion. They are left alone to relax.
Our Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) protocol combines physician-directed ketamine treatments with expert therapy. The combination of this medication + therapy has demonstrated substantial benefit for our clients above ketamine-only treatment. We have developed our own KAP protocol, which has offered dramatic benefits – especially for clients who have a history of significant trauma and/or addiction. Our approach is guided by research and clinical application: We have an experienced, trained therapist present with each client to set an intention and guide the experience for the client customized to their particular treatment needs.
Our KAP protocol creates the emotional safety necessary for processing the old and integrating a new perspective for sustained change. This intensive transition stimulates neuro-remodeling and is a prime opportunity for forging new and healthy patterns of behavior. These changes are associated with greatly improving or fully resolving severe depression, chronic suicidal ideation, trauma and/or addiction. We encourage continued therapy after completing a KAP protocol series to optimize the ongoing benefits of emotional healing and growth.
If you are interested in Ketamine-Assisted-Psychotherapy, please call our office at (385) 429-9808 or visit the ketamine page on our website.
Note: Please be aware that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not yet established an approval for the use of ketamine as a treatment for psychiatric and related conditions (as above). Therefore, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy and its use is considered off-label. The only official FDA ‘indication’ for use of ketamine is anesthesia or anesthetic purposes.
 Ketamine and the Treatment of Mental Health Conditions: Revolutionizing the way we treat mood disorders. April 14, 2022. Retrieved from: https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/ketamine-and-mental-health-disorders/202204/ketamine-and-the-treatment-mental-health-conditions