Hope: Understanding This Core Benefit of Ketamine

June 24, 2024 by Steve Suntala

Finding mental wellness can be a lifelong journey for many people. In fact, 57.8 million adults in the United States struggled with a mental illness in 2021, 5.5% of which reported severe symptoms. 

Unfortunately, those with treatment-resistant conditions cannot often achieve relief through traditional talk therapy or medication. Passing through numerous approaches with little to no success can leave many feeling distraught about their futures. 

Ketamine may offer a long-term, influential solution.

With recent advances in therapeutic application, patients living with debilitating symptoms can experience hope again through ketamine infusions. 

Hopelessness is often a defining feature of treatment-resistant depression. Instilling a sense of hope, then, becomes a critical first step forward. 

Finally achieving mental clarity and well-being after weeks, months, or even years of ineffective treatment can be revitalizing. Ultimately, this state of mind can be pivotal in building the life they have always wanted. 

Why Is Hope Important in Mental Health Treatment?

Hope is not simply an emotion but an overall state of being and mind. Hope provides the oomph we need to excel in life and is the basis of sustained well-being. Without this ideology, we often feel lost, rendering many of us unmotivated and chronically distraught.

Constantly experiencing setback after setback in therapy or in the course of taking pharmaceutical medication can deplete the ability to sustain meaning in life. Chasing wellness falls to the wayside as people focus on simply existing and “getting by.” Because they fail to see a successful future for themselves, mental clarity and stability become a luxury only available to those with purpose. 

This mindset is far from the truth but candidly represents why hope is so meaningful in mental health treatment. 

How Ketamine Therapy Instills Hope

In the words of Boris Heifets, assistant professor of anesthesiology, perioperative, and pain medicine at Stanford Medicine, “There is most definitely a physiological mechanism, something that happens between your ears when you instill hope.”

Research shows a lack of hope is frequently a precursor to poor mental health. Ketamine can combat this lost faith by balancing the mind and providing the clarity necessary to start the healing journey. 

While only currently FDA-approved for treatment-resistant depression, esketamine therapy (available via Spravato nasal spray) has also provided a regained sense of hope to many people with PTSD, chronic pain, and anxiety. Our ketamine infusion therapy achieves similar results. With a renewed ambition, patients can learn better ways to cope with, address, and heal from their symptoms.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

About 5% of US citizens live with PTSD in any given year. Apply this statistic to your daily life–5 out of every 100 adults you encounter may struggle with painful trauma symptoms. Sadly, even more people may never report their diagnoses or experiences, meaning this number could be significantly higher.

Many associate PTSD with veterans, but anyone can experience long-term trauma. Symptoms can be entirely paralyzing, as intrusive memories, flashbacks, and nightmares can create constant fear and anxiety for survivors. PTSD is also characteristically treatment-resistant in many cases.

Losing hope is a real challenge for people with PTSD, especially those with multiple traumas. Exposure to abuse, death, war and similar situations can erode their sense of safety in the world, relationships, and their futures. Many report having a “foreshortened” outlook on life, often leading to depression, a lack of motivation, and grief–ultimately hindering many from seeking treatment. 

Ketamine offers patients a revolutionary way to delve into their pasts and rewrite their trauma narratives. In a dissociative state, patients can often revisit traumas as a “viewer” rather than an “experiencer.” Here, they can explore how the event impacted their emotions, perceptions, and actions in and after the moment. 

With this knowledge, many report feeling a restored sense of control over their lives. They can better separate themselves from the past, allowing them to look forward to the future. They can now recognize the power they have to change their lives for the better, helping reduce the debilitating effects of trauma.

Treatment-Resistant Depression

Addressing treatment-resistant depression has been a long-standing challenge among mental health professionals. While experts continue to develop new medications and therapy interventions, 30% of those with major depressive disorder (MDD) continue to experience symptoms despite numerous attempts at treatment. Spending time, money, and energy on unsuccessful trials proves exhausting, and one can easily lose sight of potential future gains.

Some may even grow resentful toward therapists or psychiatrists because they feel abandoned or neglected. These negative feelings toward the mental health field can result in many choosing to cope on their own. In the end, a lack of hope combined with a lack of support can only worsen symptoms.

As mentioned above, ketamine works differently than medication. For example, SSRIs only provide temporary relief by balancing serotonin levels in the brain. When someone stops taking the drug, the positive effects subside and symptoms return. 

Conversely, ketamine directly influences areas of the brain associated with depressive symptoms. With continued treatment, ketamine can facilitate “widespread structural changes in the dopamine system,” thus helping stabilize mood and reestablish homeostasis. Better yet, these impacts are not short-lived and can lead to remission.

After battling emotional numbness, sadness, and low motivation, finding balance can open a world of opportunities for those with depression. Once again, they can experience joy in life. Their faith in professional support may return, and many can return to therapy with a revitalized desire to improve their lives and well-being.

Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety is one of the most prevalent mental health disorders, with roughly 4% of the global population experiencing diagnosable symptoms. Being in a constant state of arousal can wreak havoc on the nervous system, even leading to muscle tension, heart conditions, or gastrointestinal diseases. 

Like low moods associated with depression, feeling bound by worry can keep people stuck in a state of hopelessness. Anxiety can limit people from taking necessary risks, exploring relationships, chasing their dreams, and living life to the fullest. In some cases, individuals may be deterred from seeking treatment because they fear judgment or the social aspect of psychotherapy. 

However, many can learn to cope with anxiety through ketamine therapy. Unlike talk therapy, patients do not need to interact with a professional throughout the entire session. Instead, they can focus on self-reflection and introspection. 

Additionally, as with depressive symptoms, ketamine can induce a sense of calm and balance within the brain, thus reducing anxiety. Walking away from a session feeling at ease can encourage patients to continue treatment, and many may achieve remission with time. Finally addressing hyperarousal and finding calm can be the catalyst for revived hope for the future. 

Finding Healing With New Pathways

You are not alone in your mental health struggles. Our staff at New Pathways is here to support you as you seek to improve your life and find hope again. We aim to provide you with the utmost care throughout your ketamine therapy journey, from your first consultation to your first session and beyond. Healing is possible–don’t lose faith! 

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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© New Pathways 2024