Ketamine-assisted therapy is the use of ketamine for the treatment of chronic pain, treatment-resistant depression, major depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, PTSD, and other conditions that affect mental health.
Frequently Asked Questions
Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist, and that accounts for many of its actions. The mechanism by which ketamine exerts its antidepressant effect is still being elucidated, and is undergoing much research. Studies show a statistically significant reduction in suicidality and depressive symptoms with the use of ketamine in sub-anesthetic doses.
It induces dissociative anesthesia, a trance-like state providing pain relief, sedation, and amnesia. The distinguishing features of ketamine anesthesia are preserved breathing and airway reflexes, stimulated heart function with increased blood pressure, and moderate bronchodilation.
For pain patients, ketamine can help ‘reset’ pain receptors to lower the frequency and intensity of pain signals over time. For mood disorder patients, ketamine has a number of therapeutic effects such as helping excite new neural pathways that improve mood, sleep, and more.
With psychotherapy and integration KAT may improve psychological flexibility so that patterns of behavior are modified in a positive way.
Yes. Ketamine has many legitimate uses in medicine as an anesthetic agent. It is also used to treat acute pain in an emergency setting. Ketamine is sometimes prescribed at low dose for severe chronic pain and is given intravenously, intramuscularly, intranasally, and sublingually for the treatment of major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, and suicidality at medical clinics throughout North America and Europe.
Ketamine was originally developed as a fast-acting dissociative anesthetic. Ketamine-assisted therapy for treating pain and mood disorders is an “off-label” treatment, which means the medicine (ketamine) is being used to treat different conditions from the condition for which its use was originally approved. “Off-label” treatment is common practice throughout the world by medical professionals.
There is a good evidence base for using ketamine especially in treatment-resistant depression and rapidly decreasing suicidal ideation. This medication has been used safely for many years.
The cost of therapeutic KAT depends on several factors including the condition for which you are seeking treatment and insurance coverage. Pricing options will be discussed at your initial consultation.
Once you have been assessed by our medical team, you can be scheduled into our program.
When ketamine is administered in a closely monitored program with excellent medical and psychological oversight, the risk is low. However, in an uncontrolled recreational setting, there is a risk of addiction.
Some patients may feel tired, groggy, or experience mild nausea after a KAT session. Often these side effects will resolve on their own after a full night’s sleep.
Yes. The program requires a referral from your family doctor, pain specialist, or psychiatrist.
There are no known long-term side effects of receiving ketamine on a short-term basis in a medical setting.
The results of ketamine are often gradual improvements, rather than sudden or dramatic changes. Patients may need a series of treatments to gain longer-lasting effects.
That being said, ketamine-assisted therapy is considered the only rapid-acting treatment for depression. For patients with mood disorder, some will begin to feel better immediately after their first therapy session and this has been seen specifically in patients experiencing suicide ideation. Others will not notice significant relief until completing a series of treatments.
Clinical trials for KAT have shown positive results in over 70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression.
Mood disorder patients and pain patients normally receive a series of treatment: typically studies have suggested that six ketamine infusions of 3 weeks will provide varying short-term benefit. Our program offers the benefits of psychotherapy and integration support with three intramuscular ketamine treatments and several psychotherapy and integration sessions. KAT combines both the pharmaceutical benefits of ketamine with a supportive collaborative system of care that may have longer-term benefits. For patients who have had ketamine treatments in the past or are enrolled in a comprehensive care treatment, we can offer a custom stream.
Some patients are able to achieve long-term relief after one series of KAT. Others find that ongoing therapy enhances the effects of psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and/or pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressants. Follow-up or ‘booster’ ketamine-assisted therapy sessions can be provided on an as-needed basis for maintenance.
Once you are comfortably seated in a reclined chair, you’ll be offered a blindfold, blanket, and soothing music to support your experience. You will be attended to by your Odyssey facilitator and medical staff so that you can feel safe to allow the experience to unfold comfortably.
You may experience tingling, euphoria, and a feeling of separation from the environment, your body, your problems, and your pain. Your sense of time and space may be significantly altered. You may feel yourself to be in this detached state for up to an hour after which you will be taken to a transition room where you will be provided with juice, water, or a light snack. Once the physician feels you are ready to go home, they will let your support person know that your treatment is completed.
Apart from water, we advise against eating or drinking for four hours before your appointment to avoid nausea.
You do not need to arrive with someone else, or have someone else present during your treatment. However, you must select a designated person to take you home after your appointment and that the medical staff can be in contact with for 24 hours following your treatment. We advise that your designated person supports you by creating a safe, non-intrusive, and comfortable environment when you get home. Your designated person will be educated regarding your treatment and be provided with contact information for medical staff.
We advise against operating machinery or a motor vehicle until the following day.
KAT is more successful when performed within a therapeutic context, and integration strategies are important to the healing process.
Our ketamine-assisted therapy includes a comprehensive aftercare program including a detailed list of lifestyle changes and integration strategies to help support your recovery. Ongoing questions and concerns can be directed to the psychotherapist by appointment.
A history of schizophrenia, alcohol use disorder, or any other addictions are currently exclusions. Please contact us to discuss further.
You will need to let us know about any medications you are currently taking, in particular:
Lamotrigine, (Lamictal), Benzodiazepines, including Xanax (Alprazolam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Valium (Diazepam), and Klonopin (Clonazepam): these decrease the effects of ketamine and may need to be stopped a few days prior and after the treatment.
Antidepressants (SSRIs/SNRIs): you may continue taking these during treatments.
Patients between the ages of 19 to 70 will be considered. The age range may expand as the program expands.
MSP – No, it is not covered under the provincial health plan.
Insurance – Insurance companies differ widely in their policies for reimbursement. We suggest checking with your provider ahead of time.
At the Ketamine Suite intramuscular ketamine is injected to induce a psychedelic experience that typically lasts about an hour. Ketamine leaves the body fairly quickly and has a half-life of one to three hours, meaning you can expect to go back to your normal activities the next day.
Intravenous ketamine is ideal for anesthesia because it is 100% bioavailable, meaning it is completely absorbed and used in the body. IV ketamine can also be infused slowly over 40 minutes to induce a psychedelic experience that can be beneficial for the treatment of depression and chronic pain.
Intramuscular ketamine is 75 – 93% bioavailable onset of the experience occurs within 2 to 5 minutes and lasts for about an hour.
You will typically return to a normal state of consciousness within an hour and half but it may take several hours for ketamine to completely leave your body. It is recommended that you return home to a calm environment to rest for the remainder of the day.
Yes, your doctor does need to fill this out. Referrals are required in BC, and it also helps to keep your doctor “in the loop” with your healthcare.
No. Our doctors cannot provide a prescription for any ketamine that is not used within the confines of our program.
There are standard Covid policies and procedures in place (masks, social distancing, disinfection of surfaces, etc.) We follow all rules according to the Provincial Health Authority mandates. Patients who are unvaccinated may be asked to provide a negative Rapid Test within 48 hours prior to treatment days.
We typically schedule two weeks in advance, however we hope to have the upcoming group schedules on our website very soon to help with planning. Expect up to two to three appointments per week for the duration of the program, one being virtual.
The Odyssey Method is the model of therapy that supports clients to understand and integrate the psychedelic experience that our team of medical professionals and doctors believe will provide the best outcomes.
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