Ketamine for Pain Management and Psychotherapy
Over the past several years, ketamine has come into use as a physical and mental health intervention for the pain patient who has tried everything and for those with treatment resistant depression. Currently, ketamine is the only legal psychedelic medicine available to mental health providers to help patients with a wide variety of diagnoses when administered with psychotherapy. It shows promise for pain relief, too.
Many studies throughout the last decade have demonstrated safe use and efficacy of ketamine. Ketamine is a derivative of an anesthetic that was initially approved for use in 1970. Most of the stigma of ketamine comes from the idea that it is a tranquilizer, that it is a drug of abuse, or that only anesthesiologists will use it. Not such a rosy picture thus far…but here is the good news.
There is strong evidence-based research to support the use of ketamine at doses lower than those used for anesthesia, both topically and orally, for pain relief. A one-year follow up study published in Pain in 2022 demonstrates positive effects of ketamine for both chronic as well as acute pain relief.
Ketamine also can help with anxiety and depression, as well as PTSD and developmental trauma, due to its impacts on cholinergic, monoaminergic, kappa opioid, and GABA neurotransmitter systems. A systematic review published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research in 2021 found that ketamine may offer rapid treatment for treatment-resistant depression and was well-tolerated in adolescents and older adults.
Ketamine may be a solution when other current medications are often not well tolerated. The most common reasons people stop taking medication prescribed for anxiety and depression are side effects such as nausea or sexual dysfunction. Ketamine, meanwhile, can be administered frequently or intermittently. Thus, it can be used for both acute and chronic mental health treatment. Furthermore, ketamine used in ketamine-assisted psychotherapy has not been shown to produce any physical dependence.
Ketamine-assisted Psychotherapy and Pain Management is a new and unique methodology with a rapidly growing group of practitioners participating in its development and practice.