About twenty years ago, researchers first showed that ketamine could alleviate depression within just hours following administration. Ever since, the psychiatric community has been excited about ketamine as the potential antidote to depression, anxiety and other treatment-resistant psychological disorders.
But how will it help you? In this post, we explain the benefits of Mindbloom’s treatment and how to fully take advantage of your journey toward better mental health and personal transformation.
First, let’s review how ketamine interacts with the brain to achieve its therapeutic outcomes.
Your brain on ketamine
Ketamine is believed to produce its therapeutic effects through several novel mechanisms of action - increasing production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and reducing activity in the default mode network (DMN).
Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is a signalling protein that supports differentiation, maturation, and growth of neurons in the nervous system. By increasing BDNF production, ketamine enhances neuroplasticity, which refers to the brain’s ability to continuously adapt its structure in response to its activity - something that we know is impaired in states of chronic stress, anxiety and depression. Because BDNF is active in the parts of the brain that are essential to learning, memory, emotional regulation and higher thinking, this allows our brains to open and form new – ideally more positive – circuit patterns.
The default mode network (DMN) refers to the activity of specific groups of brain structures that are involved in memory, emotion, and our sense of self. Because of this, it is crucially involved in sustaining regular, everyday states of consciousness. Unfortunately, this everyday consciousness can often involve negative, ruminating thought patterns. The brain can get stuck in these patterns, especially under states of impaired neuroplasticity caused by chronic stress, anxiety, and depression, as mentioned above.
By decreasing activity in the DMN and enhancing neuroplasticity, ketamine can help your brain break out of these faulty circuit patterns and allow you to discover new perspectives, replacing negative thought patterns with positive ones in the process.
An exciting approach to therapy
In early 2019, the FDA approved a derivative of ketamine (esketamine) for treatment-resistant depression. However, mental health professionals are more frequently turning to ketamine, not just as a last resort for treatment resistant conditions, but as a first-line intervention because of its many advantages over conventional treatment options. Below, we’ve highlighted some of the most exciting attributes of ketamine.
It’s rapidly effective
Conventional antidepressants can take weeks or even months to become effective. Ketamine’s benefits often begin to appear within hours, and clinical trials with intravenous ketamine infusions have shown peak mood elevation about 24-36 hours after treatment.
It can help people with a variety of mental health conditions
Likely due to ketamine’s ability to increase neuroplasticity and reduce activity in the DMN, its therapeutic applications apply to a broad range of disorders that involve ruminating about the past (depression) or future (anxiety), fixating on self-destructive behavior (OCD and substance abuse), and other conditions in which the brain seems to get stuck in the same, repetitive negative groove.
You don’t have to take it every day
Unlike other psychiatric medications that are typically taken daily, ketamine treatments are far less frequent, which results in far fewer side effects. Our clients often begin with weekly administration during their initial six-session program and then transition to less frequent sessions in subsequent programs. Clinical trials with IV ketamine have shown that an initial course of 4-6 twice weekly treatments can produce antidepressant effects that last weeks or even months.
It has an impressive safety record
Ketamine was FDA approved as an anesthetic in 1970 and remains widely used in the fields of surgical anesthesia and emergency medicine because of its effectiveness and safety record. In recent decades, ketamine has proven its ability (at a fraction of the anesthetic dose) to act as a therapeutic agent for numerous mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.
It can help access new, positive perspectives
The purpose of the guided ketamine experience is to create a psychedelic, or “mind-revealing,” state of consciousness in order to facilitate lasting, meaningful personal growth and transformation. Benefits may include mental rejuvenation, self-discovery, enhanced empathy and social intelligence, stress reduction, developing a more positive outlook and appreciation for life, improved relationships with yourself and others, and optimization of your lifestyle.
The Mindbloom approach: Equipping you with tools for lasting growth
The Mindbloom approach is designed to help clients take advantage of the ketamine-induced brain state to target their identified areas of self-improvement. We believe clients need to be active participants in their personal growth and we have created programs that help clients achieve maximum therapeutic benefits.
We’re not simply providing medication, we’re equipping clients with the support and tools to get the most out of their treatment using approaches backed by decades of evidence in psychedelic medicine and psychiatry. Every client works with their clinician to set intentions and develop a personalized treatment plan. Whether your session is at Mindbloom or at home, we help ensure that your mindset and the treatment setting are carefully prepared to promote positive and beneficial experiences. After each session, we provide guidance on integrating your breakthroughs into your day-to-day life to create lasting change.
Our initial six-session program allows your sessions to build on each other as you go deeper with your intentions or discover new target areas of self-improvement. If you want to continue to build on your progress or tackle new goals, we provide integration therapy as well as more advanced programs.
What Mindbloom clients are saying
We’ve looked at how ketamine operates in our brains, its positive clinical attributes, and how Mindbloom’s approach helps clients get the most out of their treatment. But how do these benefits manifest in an actual ketamine patient?
Here are some of the benefits reported by Mindbloom’s clients:
"I was really struggling with ruminating anxiety despite psychotherapy. My clinician Kristin made me feel comfortable, the space was amazing, and the experience blew my mind. I’m finally out of the rut I was in for several years. I LOVE that feeling." Laura K. - Healthcare provider in Brooklyn, NY
"Mindbloom gave me everything I was looking for. The next day, I almost felt like a kid again where everything felt new. And the lasting effects have been so real. It was life-changing. I’ve been telling everybody about it." Adam B. - Designer in New York, NY
“Mindbloom was like getting 5 years of therapy in just a few sessions. It’s the single best investment I have ever made for my mental health.” Natalie W. - Executive at non-profit startup in New York, NY
"I 100% recommend Mindbloom to anyone who has been stuck with anxiety, depression, or stress and wants to try something new. I’ve come to see old problems in new ways and feel like I have a better perspective on the world." Mattan G. - Professor in New York City
Want to see if you’re a candidate? Head over to Mindbloom and complete our brief candidate assessment.
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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call, text, or chat the National Suicide Prevention Line at 988 or +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.
Important FDA Safety Information
Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.
Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).
Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:
- Allergic to ketamine
- Symptoms of psychosis or mania
- Uncontrolled high blood pressure
- CHF or other serious heart problem
- Severe breathing problem
- History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
- History of hyperthyroidism
- Other serious medical illness
- Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant
Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.
While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.
- In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
- Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
- Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
- The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.
To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:
- Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
- Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
- Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
- Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
- Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
- Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety