How does ketamine therapy work?

Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy presents a promising approach to healing. This innovative therapy combines the use of ketamine, integration-focused talk therapy, and robust coping skills to create a safe and supportive environment for individuals seeking lasting healing.

Through a comprehensive treatment protocol tailored to your specific needs, KAP facilitates the brain’s ability to learn, known as neuroplasticity, thus facilitating positive mental health changes that are sustainable over time. KAP can provide symptom relief quickly, lifting negative thoughts while broadening one’s perspective about life and challenges. These benefits are leveraged during integration psychotherapy sessions in which individuals are able to make significant gains in insight and behavior change. 

Ketamine’s effect on the brain is multifaceted and not fully understood, although research has discovered many positive effects, including a rapid and significant antidepressant effect. Ketamine targets NMDA receptors in the brain, which seems to increase the amount of glutamate, a neurotransmitter, in the spaces between neurons. Glutamate then activates another receptor, AMPA, and together this leads to the release of other molecules that help neurons communicate in new neural pathways. This process, known as synaptogenesis, jump starts effective thought patterns, cognition, and mood. 

Ketamine may also decrease signals related to inflammation, which is tied to mood disorders. It also seems to facilitate communication within specific areas of the brain, thereby increasing cognitive flexibility and learning. 

Ketamine stimulates BDNF in the brain, leading to neurogenesis and new connections. In this way, ketamine stimulates new neuron growth. This allows new learning to happen while making it easier to overcome rigid thought patterns. 

Ketamine also seems to turn off the burst mode in the lateral habenula, the anti-reward center of the brain. This leads to a break from a chronic stress mode, thus facilitating emotional processing while reducing avoidance of negative emotions. In this way, ketamine acts to turn off the chronic stress button of the brain. 

Ketamine interrupts the connection between the cortex and limbic system of the brain. This puts a pause on ordinary thinking, thereby decreasing anxious ruminations. This process also down regulates the Default Mode Network, which results in an increase of cognitive flexibility, a hallmark of well-being.