Evaluating the Effects of Ketamine on Your Life

June 10, 2024 by Steve Suntala

Everyone has a unique experience with mental health treatment, especially ketamine. People seek this method for various reasons, whether depression, anxiety, chronic pain, or other ailments. 

Like any approach to wellness, ketamine therapy is not a “one-size-fits-all” solution. What truly matters is how you respond to treatment. How does ketamine improve your well-being? Does this treatment significantly enhance your perspective on life?

Examining how ketamine affects your mental and physical health is a key aspect of long-term success. Below we’ll provide some questions that can help you identify the role this treatment has in your wellness journey–both now and moving forward. 

What Does Ketamine Do to the Brain?

Within the last few years, ketamine has gained significant traction among mental healthcare providers. Unlike prescription SSRIs or similar medications, research shows ketamine changes the brain in unique, unexpected ways.

For example, numerous studies show many symptoms of depression stem from heightened emotional responses and negative perceptions. The actual structure of a person’s brain can influence those responses. Ketamine can provide remarkable symptom relief by rebalancing these brain areas, allowing patients to regain a sense of cognitive control and clarity. 

Even more notable is the sustained nature of these improvements. Continued ketamine infusions can lead to symptom remission, an experience many with treatment-resistant depression could not have imagined just a decade ago. 

Understanding How Ketamine Affects Your Life

Maintaining mental health wellness is an ongoing journey. Inevitably, some days will be better than others, and you may struggle with fluctuating symptoms along the way.

Regardless of your unique experience, the right treatment can be life-changing. Finding relief after years of disappointment can provide a new outlook on your future. Ketamine may help you achieve the life you’ve envisioned.

Still, ketamine is not a cure-all. You can initiate the healing process with this approach, but you must continue the work outside sessions. Throughout your growth, monitoring how ketamine influences your life is essential for filling in the gaps between infusion and at-home success.

Below are nine questions to ask yourself along the way about the impacts of ketamine on your life:

1. Do You Have a Better Outlook on Life?

Many hold negative outlooks of their futures due to mental health ailments. If you struggle with this challenge, know you are not alone. 

Some research shows ketamine therapy can reduce suicidal ideation and improve quality of life for those with major depressive disorder (MDD). Such benefits can allow people to experience happiness and find meaning in life again after battling symptoms for years.

After a few ketamine sessions, explore how you feel about yourself, your work, your goals, and every other aspect of your being. Has your perspective changed since beginning treatment? Do previously enjoyed activities and relationships elicit happiness again? 

In the end, ketamine may be a sustainable approach to wellness if you feel better equipped to navigate life challenges.

2. Have You Experienced Symptom Remission?

The right mental health treatment should always improve your life in some way. For example, you would expect headache relief when taking pain medication. Why would you anticipate anything less for your mental wellness?

One case study found patients with treatment-resistant depression can experience remission from symptoms for three months after ketamine infusions, even in the absence of traditional antidepressants. 

Ketamine makes experiencing a life free from chronic low mood, suicidal thoughts, low energy, and emotional numbness possible for some patients. Remission from only one symptom can still be influential and transformative. 

3. Does Ketamine Help You Stay Grounded?

Paradoxically, ketamine can help people feel more grounded, despite the treatment itself providing dissociative effects. While dissociation often causes a “detachment” from the body, this experience can actually be pivotal to long-term healing.

During this state, patients may see themselves and their lives from an outside perspective, providing insight into their traumas, symptoms, or emotions. In this state, they can examine the reasons behind their challenges, allowing them to discover solutions they may have otherwise overlooked in traditional therapy.

Patients can later use these identified stressors to ground themselves when encountering difficult situations. They know their reactions stem from a specific trigger (e.g., trauma), so they can approach and manage their emotions without judgment. Patients can better recognize the event as a small snag they can overcome.  

Now, ask yourself, “Does ketamine help me practice better emotional regulation when overwhelmed?” 

As we’ve mentioned, ketamine will not be the only factor in addressing your symptoms. Instead, use what you gain from treatment alongside other grounding tools like deep breathing, mindfulness, or meditation.

4. Do You Feel Better Attached to Yourself?

Like its grounding effects, ketamine may help you develop more self-awareness. As you experience the dissociative effects throughout treatment, you may reach undiscovered areas of your psyche and self. 

Ketamine may provide the catalyst for you to identify core values, goals, and belief systems. Meditation can facilitate some introspection, but maintaining the “empty” mindset necessary for practice is challenging. Instead, ketamine offers patients the ability to achieve this state without forcing themselves to “unplug.”

So, does ketamine provide a unique understanding of your identity? If you struggle with this aspect of treatment, journaling after sessions can assist you in improving self-awareness. 

Interested in a free consultation? If you’d like to pursue this journey, we have locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

5. Do You Feel Better After Therapy?

You won’t always feel “better” after mental health treatment, at least at face value. In psychotherapy, many people revisit past traumas that elicit painful memories and emotions. This reaction is also possible with ketamine.

Still, we must recognize the difference between discomfort and failure in your wellness journey. Facing these issues is critical to your recovery. Allowing them to continue negatively influencing your choices, outlook, and functioning impedes success. 

So, while a session may be initially overwhelming, what transpires after these emotions subside is where true healing lies. 

Does ketamine provide an overall sense of relief as you overcome internal traumas? Does your inner self feel more balanced and at peace? In the end, how you feel about your progress should guide your continued treatment. 

6. Have You Tried Therapy Alongside Ketamine Treatment?

A number of people have had success with ketamine alone. Others need supplemental support, whether through talk therapy, medication, group support, or alternative treatment. Your journey is your own–you should always honor your needs as you explore what works for you.

Psychotherapy is a great adjunct to ketamine. As we’ve stated previously, ketamine can instigate change, but sustained wellness happens at home. Meeting with a therapist can help you process traumas, phobias, or stressors brought to the surface by ketamine. 

If you struggle with managing symptoms after ketamine infusions, consider seeking therapeutic care. You may be surprised at the benefits of a combined treatment plan. 

If you have yet to achieve remission but have reduced symptoms, stick with your plan! Remission may be just around the corner.

7. Have You Been Able to Address Past Traumas?

Trauma can disrupt every element of your life. Painful memories and repressed emotions can impair your ability to function, manage relationships, reach goals, and simply care for yourself. For these reasons, processing trauma is essential to mental and physical wellness. 

We’ve explored how ketamine provides opportunities to revisit traumas. Some people find they can use these windows to “rewrite” their trauma narrative, allowing them to view themselves as “survivors” rather than “victims.” With this mindset, patients can separate themselves from their pasts, turning their focus instead to the present.

Trauma healing can be a positive long-term effect of ketamine treatment. One way to assess how you respond to therapy is by reevaluating your outlook on past experiences. Do you feel controlled by your trauma, or do you have the power to grow from them? 

8. Do You Feel an Overall Improvement Because of Ketamine?

We’ve highlighted some of the numerous advantageous effects of ketamine therapy. We’ve explored how greatly people can benefit from treatment in their emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental lives.

Now, the most important question to ask yourself is simple. Does ketamine improve your life in ways other treatments cannot? Does your overall being feel more alive, sustained, and nourished because of this wellness journey? 

Of course, finding success with any approach takes time. You may not experience improvements right away–this is normal! So, allow yourself space to grow a bit before evaluating how ketamine has influenced you. 

9. Are Your Headaches Gone?

Numerous studies suggest ketamine can be an acute and long-term tool to treat chronic headaches. Those struggling with migraines, cluster headaches, and post-traumatic headaches may finally ease debilitating pain via ketamine infusions. 

If you have a history of headaches, assess how treatment has addressed your symptoms. Do you experience less frequent episodes? Has your ability to manage these episodes improved? Do you have more energy to focus on daily responsibilities and activities?

Some people can experience full remission when receiving ketamine therapy. Consider tracking your progress in a journal or log. Reference this record on bad headache days to assess if supplemental treatment is necessary.

How New Pathways Can Help

New Pathways is dedicated to assisting you as you seek transformative change. Our professional team understands the importance of monitoring infusions, progress, and potential setbacks along the way. Seeing you thrive is what drives us to continue providing patient-forward care and support.

Mental health care is essential, and we’re here to help you figure out what works for you. Even if ketamine proves less successful for you, we’re happy to offer recommendations to therapists or psychiatrists who can further assist you in establishing wellness. 

New Pathways wants to see you find relief and have the life you’ve always imagined for yourself. Contact us today for an evaluation to see if you are a candidate for ketamine therapy. 

Interested in a free consultation? If you’d like to pursue this journey, we have locations in Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati.

At New Pathways Clinic our heartfelt mission is to establish a holistic mental wellness campus that touches the lives of individuals in the greater Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati regions. We are dedicated to combining state-of-the-art mental health treatments, like Ketamine therapy infusions and Spravato nasal spray, with the expertise of compassionate mental health professionals to treat depression, anxiety, PTSD, migraines, and bipolar disorder.

Our unwavering commitment drives us to continuously evolve and adapt as the scientific landscape of ketamine research expands and diversifies, leading to innovative mental health treatments. We are determined to pave the way for a healthier future for Cleveland, central Ohio, and southern Ohio.

New Pathways Clinic also offers Semaglutide & Tirzepatide weight-loss shots, ketamine-assisted psychotherapy, and  ketamine/Spravato support groups for patients.

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