8 Reasons Ketamine-Assisted Therapy Is Changing How We Treat Mental Health

Once considered fringe or 'out there', the side benefits of this anesthetic can be profound beyond measure.

Man reclining in chair with headphones and eye mask, ketamine assisted therapy Dean Drobot, Siewwy84, Samuel Borges Photography | Canva

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic that has been safely used since the 1970s in hospitals. Recently, the benefits have been discovered not just as a pain reliever and mild, safe anesthetic but as a powerful medication that can aid in treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, trauma, and chronic pain management. 

What is especially exciting about ketamine is it can almost immediately have an impact, elevating mood and decreasing depression, as opposed to anti-depressants that can take months to affect depression and to reach a therapeutic dose. ketamine can reduce suicidal ideation within hours, which is a game changer in the mental health field.*


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Four overall effects of ketamine as a drug

1. Euphoria and relaxation

Some individuals report feelings of euphoria and deep relaxation during a ketamine session. The drug can have a calming effect on the mind and body.

2. Increased creativity and insight

Some people describe enhanced creativity and a deeper understanding of their thoughts and emotions. This introspective quality can be valuable in a therapeutic setting, allowing individuals to explore and process their feelings.


3. Visual and auditory distortions

Hallucinations or alterations in visual and auditory perception are possible. These effects are usually not as intense as those experienced with hallucinogens like LSD or psilocybin. It may feel like a lucid dream state.

4. Improved mood

Ketamine has shown promise in rapidly alleviating symptoms of depression in some individuals. The mood-enhancing effects can be felt within hours sometimes.

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How ketamine is administered for mental health 

First, your therapist will get you in touch with a medical provider who will provide a medical screening to ensure that you are a good fit for ketamine-assisted therapy. 


You can take ketamine intravenously ( IV), intramuscularly, or sublingually. If you are taking ketamine in your therapist's office, you will most likely be doing the sublingual ketamine, which dissolves under your tongue.

Smiling after ketamine therapy for mental well-being asife via Shutterstock

Eight benefits of ketamine-assisted therapy for mental health 

Here are some of the highlights and potential benefits that research is supporting for ketamine-assisted therapy.


1. Rapid relief from symptoms

Ketamine has shown remarkable efficacy in providing rapid relief from symptoms of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mood disorders. Unlike traditional anti-depressants, which may take weeks or months to show effects, ketamine can often produce noticeable improvements within hours or days after administration. This can be very encouraging for clients who have had no relief from traditional psychotherapy.

2. Effective on treatment-resistant depression

Ketamine-assisted therapy has been particularly promising for individuals who have not responded well to other forms of depression treatment, including anti-depressant medications and psychotherapy. It offers hope for those with treatment-resistant depression by providing an alternative approach that can break the cycle of persistent symptoms. Very exciting indeed!

3. Reduced suicidal ideation

Studies have demonstrated that ketamine can rapidly reduce suicidal ideation in individuals with severe depression. This rapid reduction in suicidal thoughts can be life-saving for those in acute distress, providing a crucial window of opportunity for further therapeutic interventions. It is unlike anything we have experienced in the psychotherapy field.

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4. Enhanced neuroplasticity

Ketamine is believed to promote neuroplasticity, the brain's ability to reorganize and form new neural connections. This mechanism may underlie its antidepressant effects, helping to reverse the structural and functional changes associated with mood disorders.

5. Longer-lasting effects

While the immediate effects of ketamine may wear off within hours or days, many individuals experience prolonged relief from symptoms after a series of ketamine-assisted therapy sessions. This sustained benefit can significantly improve overall quality of life and functioning.

6. Low risk of dependency

When used in a controlled therapeutic setting, ketamine has a relatively low risk of dependency compared to other substances. Unlike traditional recreational use, which often involves higher doses and frequent administration, ketamine-assisted therapy follows strict protocols to minimize the potential for misuse or addiction.

7. Enhanced therapeutic insights

Ketamine's unique psychoactive properties can facilitate deep introspection and insight during therapy sessions. This can help individuals gain a clearer understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behavioral patterns, leading to greater self-awareness and personal growth.


8. Potential for personalized treatment

Ketamine-assisted therapy allows for personalized treatment plans tailored to each individual's needs. Therapists can adjust dosage, frequency, and therapeutic approach based on the patient's response, maximizing the effectiveness of the treatment.

*Ketamine is known for inducing dissociative effects, leading to a sense of detachment from reality or an altered perception. You may experience changes in perception, such as distorted time and space and a feeling of disconnection from your body.

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Monica Ramunda is a licensed counselor and seasoned tour guide with a background in witnessing indigenous ceremonies and extensive experience leading tours in South America, including sacred sites like the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu. She now channels her deep appreciation for native traditions and cultures into her company, Wellness and Wisdom Journeys.