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How Does Ketamine Enhance Psychotherapy

How Does Ketamine Enhance Psychotherapy?

People with “chronic” mental health illnesses combine medication with psychotherapy to make the symptoms subside early. However, there might be some treatment-resistance cases where the diagnosed person experiences severe symptoms after going through medications and psychotherapy. Research has shown that ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) is more effective than traditional therapy and antidepressants, and can be used to treat severe mental illness conditions. 

What is ketamine?

Ketamine is a medication that’s best known for its dissociative anesthetic and analgesic effects. It has been used for decades to help put patients to sleep during surgeries. 

Recently, however, research has proven its effectiveness as an antidepressant. It was discovered that when patients with mental illnesses, especially depression, are given ketamine treatment during surgery, it alleviates depression symptoms. These findings inspired many clinical trials leading to ketamine’s status as a promising alternative to other mood disorder treatments.

What is ketamine-assisted psychotherapy?

Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) is a shift in traditional psychotherapy in which ketamine’s neuroplastic effect on the brain is exploited to maximize traditional therapy’s positive effects. It is used to treat mood disorders and anxiety disorders. 

When ketamine is administered in low doses during psychotherapy, it allows the patient to relax and lower their psychological defenses and encourages rapport thereby making it easy to discuss their issues freely without emotional turmoil. If administered in a moderate dose, however, it could work as a psychedelic, altering the patient’s thinking and providing insight into their issues.

How ketamine enhances psychotherapy 

It makes patients open up more

Therapy often addresses anxiety and depression. When ketamine treatment is administered to a patient during therapy, they become consciously detached from their physical surroundings. It brings about a feeling of euphoria. This lessens the defensiveness of the patient and allows deeper self-reflection and honesty.

With only psychotherapy, it might be hard to bypass this barrier as sharing painful information may trigger a flood of other unwanted emotions in the patient. Ketamine treatment makes it easy for patients to share painful or emotional information because they are less aware of their physical surroundings. 

It makes recovery faster

Psychotherapy often involves linear stages that are followed strictly; from building relationships to identifying what the patient wants to work on, exploring the issues, and then resolution. It might take a long time before results start showing. It might even become a lifelong journey for some patients depending on the severity of the condition.

With ketamine treatment, however, this journey can be cut short. Ketamine treatment makes the mind open up with its mind-altering effects. It acts as a nerve growth stimulation and increases serotonin receptors in the brain. This can make the resolution stage of therapy more easily achieved.

What kind of psychotherapy does ketamine treatment work with?

There are different strategies of psychotherapy used to tackle mental illnesses. Ketamine treatment works with almost any of it.

Psychodynamic therapy 

This approach involves focusing on the emotions that are influencing the behavior of the patient. This therapy focuses on helping them to be self-aware of their unconscious feelings that are affecting their mental health. This therapy often lasts for months and may even extend into years, according to the patient’s responsiveness.

Interpersonal therapy

This approach focuses on helping patients understand their interactions with people and how it is affecting their mental health. It is often used to build self-esteem. It is most effective for people who are in grief or mourning and are withdrawing from other people.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy 

This approach focuses on helping patients change the dysfunctional thinking that’s making them act irrationally. This therapy aims at helping them change the perception they have about themselves and solve their mental health issues.

Supportive therapy

Supportive therapy aims at helping patients learn how to manage their emotions and thoughts on their own. This approach helps patients adapt and manage their symptoms. It is best for people who suffer from extra-psychic problems like poverty. It can help boost their ego and self-esteem.

Final Thoughts

Ketamine treatment enhances psychotherapy and helps symptoms fade rapidly. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy has been proven to be an excellent option for people who have tried medications and other therapies but the symptoms persist. Mental illnesses can limit people from living a quality life as the symptoms might affect their general well-being. Ketamine treatment will improve these symptoms rapidly and allow the patients to be in control of their lives once again.

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