Ketamineaka Special K, Kitty
Ketamine has been used at high doses in medical practices as an anesthetic agent since its discovery in 1962. In recent decades, research has demonstrated that lower sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine have rapid antidepressant effects and therapeutic benefit for other mental health conditions. In 2019, Spravato (esketamine) was FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression making it the first antidepressant medication with a novel mechanism of action since the release of Prozac in 1987. Ketamine is a racemic mixture while esketamine is only the S-enantiomer. Limited data from controlled trials suggests similar safety and effectiveness of esketamine and ketamine which is prescribed off-label for depression, pain reduction, and other indications. Although more controlled research with head-to-head comparisons is needed, generic ketamine is a much cheaper alternative to the recently marketed Spravato (esketamine).
Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is an approach of combining ketamine with traditional modalities of psychotherapy. The therapeutic process encapsulates preparation, intention and goal setting, facilitated ketamine sessions, and follow-up integration counseling. The overarching premise is that ketamine occasions experiences that can be further examined and reflected upon within a therapeutic context. The combination of neurobiological and psychological mechanisms reveal new insights and harmonize emotions to catalyze behavioral changes for personal growth.