What It’s Really Like to Try Ketamine Therapy for PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD is a serious medical condition that can occur as a result of experiencing or witnessing extremely stressful and terrifying events. Some examples of these physical and emotional triggers can be sexual assault, memories of combat, bodily abuse, losing a loved one or even a painful breakup.

PTSD can happen immediately or even years after the traumatic event. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that 6% of the population will experience PTSD in their lifetime, affecting more women (8%) than men (4%).

The medical community has long been trying to find better ways to treat PTSD. They've tried anything, from the "talking cures" of Sigmund Freud in the 1800s to today's cognitive behavior therapy. But one cutting-edge biotech treatment is getting particular attention:  Ketamine for PTSD. This drug has the potential to significantly impact PTSD and mental health. In this episode, we're taking you inside the world of psychedelic-assisted psychotherapy to unlock the secret of Ketamine for PTSD. Stay tuned for more BIOHACK-HERS episodes on mental health. 

But First, Why Use Ketamine for PTSD?

Ketamine has been used in medicine as a dissociative anesthetic with psychedelic properties.

In 1962, Calvin Stevens, a professor of chemistry, first synthesized Ketamine. Two years later, Parke-Davis tapped Edward Domino to further look into the potential of Ketamine as an anesthetic. He found it to be an effective and fast-acting anesthesia with a unique effect. His experimental subjects described how they felt "disconnected," similar to the state of dreaming. They recounted how they seemed to float in outer space and how they couldn’t feel their limbs. Thus, the term "dissociative anesthetic" was coined, and this was how Ketamine was categorized.

Later on, in 1966, Parke-Davis patented Ketamine for human and animal use, making the drug available for prescription in 1969. It became widely used as a numbing drug to treat soldiers in the Vietnam War.

In time, new intravenous hypnotics and the abuse of Ketamine diminished its popularity as an anesthetic. This continued well into the 2000s, falling into disrepute after it became a controlled substance. Yet, at the same time, medical professionals were discovering the potential of Ketamine to heal mental disorders. Eventually, doctors began to use Ketamine to treat their patients suffering from depression and other mental conditions. 

Here are some of the most potent benefits of Ketamine: 

  • Used for treatment-resistant depression 
  • Fast-acting (works within a few hours) 
  • Proposed as a potential fast antidepressant in patients with high suicidal risk 
  • Valued as a safe and effective analgesic and anesthetic

Today, Ketamine is making a clear clinical comeback in the western world. The team at Field Trip joins the renewed focus on this potent biohack. Discover more biohacks by checking out related articles from BIO-HACKERS.

With Field Trip’s trailblazing facility, they can support patients through the Ketamine Therapy experience. Let's take a peek inside what it's like to try Ketamine Therapy for PTSD. 

The Decision: Going All In with Ketamine for PTSD

 We aren't just taking anyone's word for it. In this episode of BIOHACK-HERS, HigherDOSE Co-founder Lauren Berlingeri decides to experience first-hand how powerful and positive Ketamine for PTSD therapy can be.

After the delivery of her twins, Lauren's mental health was not in the shape it once was.

Coming out of a particularly stressful childbirth, she experienced a heightened focus on fear. The negative emotion became deeply rooted in her everyday life. She would imagine things happening to her beloved children. This terrified her and made her depressed. She was utterly lost and unhappy.

So when she learned about Ketamine for PTSD, she decided to go for it. She wanted to overcome every thought and emotion hurting her mental state and holding her back from life. 

The Right Therapeutic Environment: Choosing the Field Authorities

Lauren turns to the experts at Field Trip Health—the first licensed guided Ketamine trip clinic in New York City—to receive a Ketamine for PTSD treatment and discover the transformative experience this form of psychotherapy has to offer.

Field Trip Health is a pioneering leader in psychedelic therapy and is also the largest, being present in 8 major cities. Each of their centers has a team of compassionate and experienced doctors. They specialize in developing and providing psychedelic-assisted therapies. Backed by science and research, their Ketamine for PTSD psychotherapies aim to help people heal and engage deeper with the world.

In Lauren's case, she hopes the Ketamine for PTSD treatment can help her work through her personal traumatic experience of child labor and delivery. Join Lauren as she ventures into Field Trip's trailblazing facility equipped to support patients through the entire Ketamine for PTSD therapy experience. 

The Ketamine for PSD Therapy Experience

In the video, Matt Emer, Vice President of Field Trip Health, explains how Ketamine Therapy works and what the treatment process is like. Emer explains how Field Trip Health's patients receive support during their psychedelic trip and post-trip through talk therapy with a specialist. Additionally, Psychiatrist and Neuroscientist Dr. David Rabin dives deeper into Ketamine Therapy and explains how the psychedelic (especially in low doses) is a safe medication when properly administered. He describes how Ketamine can assist with experiences of relief from both physical and emotional pain and how it can help patients self-reflect and improve how they see themselves in the world. 

Going into Treatment: Pre-Therapy Jitters

Ketamine is a dissociative substance that can make people go through difficult experiences. Thus, it's common for people to feel nervous about it. Lauren shares similar anxieties, even asking herself at one point if she's already being brainwashed. 

Managing Expectations: The First Ketamine for PTSD Treatment

Before starting the Ketamine for PTSD therapy, Lauren fills out a long intake form, which includes all the information on her medical history, past surgeries, medications, genetics, and symptoms. Then she takes an interview with an amazing psychotherapist who explains what can happen, so she'll know what to expect. At the same time, the latter also gets a sense of what she's trying to work on. This step also builds rapport and helps establish the patient's trust in the medical practitioner. 

Here are a few things she's told to expect: 

  • Some numbing in the extremities 
  • A little difficulty speaking or forming words 
  • Possibly some nauseous reaction 
  • The feeling of being removed from one's body 
  • Potential for very different emotions to come up 

After the briefing comes the calibration session. As everyone reacts differently to Ketamine, the therapist starts our patient on a low 30-mg dose to see how her body reacts. In her case, she becomes super sensitive. She enters another world where she's at her healthiest and best self. She becomes this complete person who wants to inspire others to be healthy and live an optimal life. 

Getting Bolder: The Second Ketamine for PTSD treatment

In the second session, Emily, the nurse practitioner, takes her to a treatment room to make sure the experience would be physically safe for her. This time, our patient feels more confident about the treatment. After discussing the appropriate dose with the nurse, she decides to go deeper into the experience with almost double the dose of the first session.

Lauren then gets settled and situated for her Ketamine for PTSD journey. She's asked where she wants to have her succeeding successions, and she decides on a comfortable mat with a weighted blanket. She's also given a headphone to listen to music. Additionally, the therapist provides a microphone so he can talk to her if something comes up.

The psychotherapist prepares her "intention" and medicine session,  asking questions like, "Where do you want to go today?" or "What do you want this experience to be like?" The fantastic thing with Ketamine for PTSD therapy is that it allows folks to go inward and look into themselves instead of looking outside or using external stimuli for healing. For Lauren, her goal is clear: to get rid of the fear consuming her life.

Once the patient is comfortable, Emily administers her Ketamine for PTSD dose intramuscularly. Our patient learns that there's a possibility of falling back into divergent scenarios of darkness. And this is similar to what Lauren goes through as she undergoes an entirely different session from the first one.

According to the therapist, "When people are ready to see difficult emotions and allow themselves to work through them, it could be super beneficial. Ketamine for PTSD therapy can highlight the trauma, allowing one to relive the entire experience. Our bodies can sometimes store trauma, so it makes sense to feel a strong physical connection to the traumatic or stressful event as you go through the Ketamine for PTSD treatment. 

The Moment After: Coming out of a Ketamine for PTSD treatment

The psychotherapist relays that Ketamine for PTSD can be an amazing tool to tap into deep emotions and thoughts that traditional psychotherapy may take longer to treat. He continues to say that this isn't just a passive treatment where you receive the Ketamine, and that's it, just like a day at the spa. Instead, it's really active, experiential, and profound. You may expect the emotional toll of having a deep experience to be draining. You may also feel groggy as you leave the therapy, like your mind and body are in two separate places, or you may find it hard to talk. 

After connecting with her trauma, Lauren realizes that it’s something she can go through, that her fears were unfounded. Reliving the traumatic experience helps her process it. She now tells the trauma to leave her body, as she also reminds herself that she will no longer store it in her being. She feels the horrific experience energetically leave her body, and she feels so much lighter.

As she emerges from her Ketamine for PTSD experience, the psychotherapist is nearby and interprets the significance of what she went through. Lauren comes back crying. She is just so happy to be alive, that it's all over. She sees the beauty of what just happened, like going through a mental carwash that helped her reset the button, or taking a two-week trip where she comes back a different person. A fresh new beginning is about to start, and she can't wait to live out her best life yet.

Editors' Note: As always, any medication—including Ketamine for PTSD—should only be taken as prescribed and under the supervision of a trained physician.

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