Ketamine and Your Mental Health

chemical diagram for ketamine

What ketamine is, how it works, and potential risks—and benefits

1. Ketamine is an anesthetic. 

It’s used all over the world, every single day, in emergency rooms and surgery theaters—even for children. As a matter of fact, many doctors say it’s the perfect anesthetic. That’s because ketamine:

  • has a stellar safety profile for respiratory and cardiovascular function
  • diminishes pain
  • is non-toxic. 

Unfortunately, the war on drugs gave this miracle molecule an undeserved negative reputation as a dangerous substance—which research has repeatedly shown that it simply isn’t.

woman in bed with eyeshades.

2.  Ketamine is a validated treatment for mental-health concerns. 

About 20 years ago, a research trial proved that ketamine was effective at rapidly reducing symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. But it’s been known as a mental-health treatment for nearly as long as it’s been used for anesthetic purposes. 

Today, ketamine is becoming more valued and well-known as an adjunct to therapy that creates lasting improvements for a myriad of mental-health struggles.  

That has happened in large part because ketamine makes talk therapy a faster, easier process for people. From what I’ve seen in my practice, one ketamine-assisted therapy session provides roughly the value of 10 “regular” talk-therapy sessions. 

Therapist talking to client

3. Ketamine alone isn’t a miracle drug.

Ketamine isn’t magic. I’ve heard some people liken a ketamine experience to 3 years of therapy in 3 hours. That’s absolute nonsense. But ketamine does make therapy faster and more effective. 

There’s one special case where ketamine is somewhat of a miracle: for people who have what’s called treatment-resistant depression. Such a person may have tried 10 different medications and 8 different therapists over 20 years but are still debilitated by depression. 

For this person, one dose of ketamine can create brain changes that will miraculously eliminate their depression for days, weeks, or even months (depending on the person). That’s not to say that once they’ve been pulled out of the mire, there’s not still work to do, because there’s always work to do. But in this one particular case, ketamine can be truly miraculous.

Two bonus benefits of ketamine

4. Ketamine has two bonus benefits.

Ketamine’s value for many people comes from its ability to help you in two primary ways:

  1. The elimination of physical discomforts at the heart of many mental-health struggles 
  2. The brain state induced by ketamine, which makes learning new things easier (because, well, learning new things is at the heart of any lasting change in life)

So…why doesn’t everyone use this stuff? Ketamine got an undeserved bad reputation during the War on Drugs. Also because ketamine has a side effect that people can feel alarmed by if they’re not prepared for it.

Ironically, this exact side effect (which some people call a k-hole) is the state which brings many of the mental-health benefits we’re all looking for. 

hand drawn flower

I’ll end with this: In 2022, the Yale Department of Psychiatry touted ketamine as the biggest breakthrough in psychiatry in the past 50 years. The experts’ praises just go on from there. 

Consider ketamine-assisted therapy if…

  • Advancing your mental health is on deck in your life
  • You want to capitalize on a tool to make that process more efficient and effective

To know more, check out my book The Beginner’s Guide To Ketamine Therapy For Mental Health.

Ketamine therapy book on table with a cup of coffee
Leah Benson Therapy icon

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