Ketamine-assisted healing is an innovative approach to helping people overcome mental health challenges. Ketamine for mental health is a relatively new therapy, but research has quickly shown it to be a safe, effective, and quick way for people to make progress — even if they’ve tried other forms of treatment before without success.

Ketamine-assisted healing works differently when compared to conventional treatments. It’s important to learn more about ketamine itself to determine if you should use ketamine for mental health.

The Origins of Ketamine and Ketamine Use

While ketamine for mental health is a relatively new form of treatment, ketamine itself has a long history of medicinal use tracing back to the early 1960s. Ketamine was first synthesized in 1962 and was approved for medicinal use in the United States as early as 1970.

Ketamine was first used as an anesthetic. Unlike other anesthetics, ketamine causes a total loss of sensation at high doses while stimulating the sympathetic nervous system, which can keep airways open and functioning.

Due to its excellent safety profile, ketamine was used extensively as the anesthetic of choice for much of the 1970s, including during the Vietnam War. But it began to be replaced by drugs such as propofol toward the end of the decade.

Ketamine is still used for anesthesia in certain cases and continues to see extensive use in veterinary medicine. The long history and current use of ketamine in the United States has shown that ketamine is a safe drug for human use when delivered under medical supervision, even at the high doses used for anesthesia.

Ketamine’s Effects

Ketamine belongs to a drug class known as dissociatives, a type of hallucinogen that produces feelings of detachment or dissociation. At sub-anesthetic doses, people who take ketamine report:

  • Feeling disconnected from their bodies
  • Sedation
  • Pain relief
  • Relaxation
  • A sense of floating

Higher doses of ketamine can produce unconsciousness and amnesia, though the dose typically used for mental health treatment isn’t enough to produce these effects.

Ketamine for Mental Health

The history of ketamine use as a mental health treatment began when physicians regularly used this drug for anesthesia.

Certain doctors recognized that some patients who were experiencing significant mental health problems before their procedures woke up from anesthesia with vastly reduced symptoms. It indicated that ketamine had a positive effect on their mental illness — at least in the short term.

However, research on ketamine for mental health was abruptly stopped when ketamine was classified as a Schedule III controlled substance. It wasn’t until recently that researchers began investigating the usefulness of ketamine for mental health again. The results have shown that ketamine has significant promise as a mental health treatment.

The new wave of psychedelic research for mental health treatment has pointed to ketamine as one of the most promising and effective treatments. The drug has been repeatedly found to be effective at helping people overcome depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and a number of other mental health challenges.

But while ketamine taken alone without any other interventions can have several positive effects, ketamine-assisted healing takes the process a step further, enhancing the benefits of ketamine.

The Ketamine-Assisted Therapeutic Process

Ketamine-assisted healing is a multistep process designed to combine the potent antidepressant and anxiolytic effects of ketamine with the benefits of traditional talk therapy.

Assessment and Consultation

The first step is meeting with your ketamine-assisted healing providers for a consultation and assessment process. Ketamine-assisted healing isn’t a cure-all for every mental health condition, and it is sometimes contraindicated if you have certain mental health challenges or medical conditions.

Meeting with our team for a detailed assessment can help determine whether ketamine-assisted therapy is a good fit for you and your recovery. It can also identify any potential risk factors and help you to make the best decision for your health.

After our team has identified whether ketamine-assisted healing can help, a brief consultation can help prepare you for the next steps. This includes walking you through what to expect during your ketamine session, setting goals and intentions for your treatment, and preparing you to deal with any side effects of the medication.

Our team then schedules a time for your ketamine-assisted healing session, which is the next step in the process.

The Ketamine Session

The ketamine session is when our team administers the medication itself. Ketamine is typically delivered by either a lozenge or a nasal spray, and the effects can begin as soon as fifteen minutes later. The full ketamine experience lasts between an hour and 90 minutes. During that time, you will sit with one of our therapists to talk through your mental health challenges.

While ketamine alone has several benefits for a number of mental health disorders, it also creates a unique pathway to accelerating the traditional therapeutic process.

Talking with a specially trained therapist during a ketamine session can help people disconnect from the symptoms of mental illness, look at their behaviors and thoughts objectively, and make breakthroughs in therapy that could take months or years without the assistance of ketamine.

Your therapist will sit with you throughout the entire experience and will be there to support you with any side effects you experience. Most people will begin to feel the alleviating effects of treatment immediately after their session is completed.

Follow Up

Following your treatment experience, our team will follow up with you regularly to check in on your progress. Most people need just a single session to feel better, but in some cases, multiple ketamine sessions can be beneficial.

Research supports the fact that the changes produced by a ketamine-assisted healing session can last for months or years, but if you begin to feel the symptoms of your mental illness again, repeated sessions can restore the benefits you felt from your first session.

What Can Ketamine-Assisted Healing Treat?

The research on ketamine for mental health may still be new, but it’s already showing incredible results. Ketamine-assisted healing has been shown to be effective at treating mental health challenges such as:

  • Major depressive disorder
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder
  • Substance use disorders

Even when people have tried other treatment methods before without success, ketamine can often help them to achieve recovery from these disorders. The literature on ketamine for treating depression and PTSD has focused extensively on treatment-resistant conditions, creating new opportunities for people who have lost hope in finding recovery from their mental health conditions.

While scientists don’t fully understand the exact mechanism of how ketamine helps with these disorders, they theorize that the dissociative effects of ketamine can place the brain in a position to easily create new neuronal connections. This is thought to be the source of the dramatic changes that just a single session of ketamine-assisted healing can produce.

FDA Approval for Ketamine

While ketamine is approved by the FDA for use as an anesthetic in the United States, it is not currently approved as a treatment for any psychiatric condition. However, a specific form of ketamine known as esketamine and sold under the brand name Spravato is an FDA-approved medication for treatment-resistant depression.

Esketamine is a nearly identical compound, and the effects of this drug closely parallel those found in ketamine. Whereas ketamine is a mixture of two molecular forms, S-ketamine and R-ketamine, esketamine is purely synthesized as the S-ketamine form.

The lack of FDA approval for ketamine may come as a surprise and may cause you to doubt the efficacy of these treatments. However, the true reason that ketamine lacks support from the FDA comes from a much more mundane problem. The patent on ketamine expired in 2002, which means that the drug is widely available as a generic and not a source of major profit for pharmaceutical companies.

Gaining FDA approval for a medication takes a significant amount of money and time, and pharmaceutical companies simply won’t seek approval for medications that won’t bring significant profit.

However, the lack of FDA approval is not an indication that ketamine isn’t effective or safe. Research done outside of the FDA has shown ketamine to be an appropriate treatment for a variety of mental disorders. Most facilities offering ketamine-assisted therapy do so using generic ketamine as an off-label prescription.

Starting Ketamine-Assisted Healing

Ketamine-assisted therapy provides new hope to people with mental health disorders who have tried several conventional treatments without success for years. By combining new science with tried-and-true methods, ketamine-assisted healing can dramatically increase your chances of recovery and get you back to feeling your best.

To learn more about the ketamine-assisted healing options offered by Plus by APN, reach out to our team via the live chat function on our website or by filling out our confidential online contact form.

Our team would be happy to walk you through the entire process, answer any questions you may have, and be there to support you through your entire journey toward recovery.


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Sobule, Robert, and Muaid Ithman. “Ketamine: Studies Show Benefit.” Missouri medicine vol. 120,1 (2023): 29-30.