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Sublingual Ketamine Assisted Therapy - With an Emphasis on 'Assisted Therapy'

What Is Sublingual Ketamine Therapy?

Low-Dose Ketamine Treatments

Sublingual ketamine therapy involves taking low doses of ketamine, an FDA-approved anesthetic, orally to treat depression, anxiety, and PTSD. The ketamine is absorbed into the bloodstream, where it acts as an NMDA receptor antagonist. This means it blocks NMDA glutamate receptors in the brain that are involved in mood regulation and cognition. In low doses, ketamine can help reset these neural pathways and provide rapid, lasting relief from distressing symptoms when combined with psychotherapy.

How It Works

Ketamine works differently than traditional antidepressants. It acts within hours instead of weeks and has been shown to relieve symptoms in as little as 24 hours that can last for up to two weeks after just one dose. The antidepressant effects of ketamine are thought to come from enhanced neural plasticity and increased connections between neurons. This allows the brain to form new neural pathways that can help overcome the "stuck" thought patterns associated with mood and anxiety disorders.

How Sublingual Ketamine Works for Depression and Anxiety

Targets the NMDA Receptor

Sublingual ketamine works by targeting the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in the brain. The NMDA receptor is involved in controlling the flow of ions between neurons that use glutamate as a neurotransmitter. By blocking the NMDA receptor, ketamine is thought to help neurons reconnect and form new pathways in the brain. This is believed to help alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Rapid-Acting Effects

When taken sublingually, ketamine is absorbed directly into the bloodstream, allowing its effects to be felt within 10-20 minutes. This method of administration also allows for quick metabolization, with the effects lasting about an hour. The rapid-acting nature of sublingual ketamine provides fast relief from acute symptoms while the longer-lasting connections in the brain are formed over weeks and months of treatment.

Requires Ongoing Therapy and Support

While the initial doses provide rapid relief from symptoms, continued treatment and psychotherapy are required to help maintain symptom improvement and support lifestyle changes. Close monitoring by a physician or nurse practitioner is also necessary to properly adjust dosage and ensure safe administration.

Using Ketamine at Home Safely With Professional Guidance

If you pursue ketamine therapy for at-home use, it is critical to do so under the guidance of a licensed professional. When taken under proper supervision, ketamine can be used safely and effectively at home to treat depression, anxiety, trauma, obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and more. However, ketamine is still a controlled substance, and misuse or abuse can lead to harmful side effects.

Follow the Recommended Treatment Plan

Your provider will outline a comprehensive treatment plan, including details on dosage, frequency of use, and duration of treatment. Carefully follow their guidance to maximize benefits and minimize risks. Never adjust or increase your dosage without consulting your provider.

Set & Setting

Create a comfortable space free of distractions for your ketamine session. Have a trusted friend or family member present to assist you as needed. Ideally you will want to be in a reclining position, keeping lights dim, playing music provided by your therapist, and have eye shades and blankets available. Remain in your space for the duration of the experience and for some time after as effects wear off.

The Benefits of Sublingual Ketamine for Processing Trauma

Sublingual ketamine therapy has been shown to provide many benefits for those struggling with unresolved trauma. When guided by a trained professional, ketamine can help process traumatic memories and heal psychological wounds in a safe and controlled manner.

Facilitates Processing of Traumatic Memories

Ketamine works by temporarily altering brain chemistry in a way that allows traumatic memories to be accessed and re-processed without the usual distress and hyperarousal. Under the guidance of a therapist, ketamine can help work through traumatic events, gain new perspectives, and reframe negative thoughts about the trauma. This can help reduce symptoms of PTSD like flashbacks, nightmares, and severe anxiety.

Promotes Neuroplasticity and Healing

Ketamine stimulates the growth of new neural connections in the brain that can help overcome ingrained patterns of thinking and behavior related to trauma. It also increases the brain’s neuroplasticity, or ability to form new neural pathways. This can help establish new, healthier ways of thinking and relating in the world that transcend the trauma. Over multiple sessions, ketamine may lead to improved mood, reduced anxiety and depression, increased resilience, and post-traumatic growth.

Allows for Deep Relaxation and Insight

Ketamine produces an altered state of consciousness described as a lucid dream-like state. This state of deep relaxation and inward focus can provide insight and perspective that is difficult to achieve in normal waking consciousness. Under the guidance of a therapist, ketamine allows for exploration of the subconscious in a way that can lead to breakthroughs and "aha" moments of insight and healing.

Ketamine as a tool for therapy - with an emphasis on 'assisted therapy'

A supportive environment

The setting and presence of a therapist during your ketamine experience is essential. They can provide a supportive presence, help you work through challenging insights, and integrate your experiences after the session ends.

Integrating the experience

The real work begins after the ketamine session ends. Speaking with your therapist, journaling about insights, and practicing self-care are all important for cementing positive changes in thinking and behavior. Your therapist can help you process experiences, find meaning, and apply lessons to daily life. Ongoing therapy is key to lasting improvement.

The therapeutic potential of ketamine is exciting, but the emphasis must remain on therapy. With the proper guidance and integration work, this tool can be transformative. But ketamine is not a panacea, and the real healing happens through the support, insights, and daily practices developed with your therapist’s help.

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