March 2, 2023

Ketamine Therapy for Depression & Anxiety: What it Feels Like and Who Can Help

Depression and anxiety are serious and potentially debilitating mental health conditions. They may occur together or separately and have similar treatment options. Symptoms may include feeling unusually down or anxious beyond what's normal for you. Fortunately, symptoms are likely to improve with treatment. That may include medications, lifestyle changes, and/or therapy. A mental health professional can help diagnose and treat both conditions.

What Is Depression?

If you've been feeling unusually sad and hopeless, depression might be to blame. It can impact people of any age and may be triggered by illness, life events, or an imbalance of brain chemicals. Sometimes, there isn't a clear cause. If you're feeling down, you might be wondering whether you have depression. 

There are several types of depression. Some have relatively clear causes, such as seasonal affective disorder, which typically occurs during the winter months, and postpartum depression, which usually occurs after pregnancy. Whether your persistent feelings of sadness and hopelessness are intermittent or occur regularly, it's important to get a proper diagnosis and explore treatment options.

One of the most common types is major depressive disorder (clinical depression). Symptoms can be intense and long-lasting for weeks, months, or more. Another type is bipolar depression. Sufferers may alternate between feeling very sad or hopeless (lows) and experiencing intense energy (highs). These mood swings can occur infrequently or many times per year. Medication and a treatment plan, including psychotherapy, can help manage symptoms.

What Does Depression Feel Like?

Regardless of which type of depression you have, it's common to feel intensely sad or lose interest in daily activities you once enjoyed. These symptoms can range from mild to severe and may also include sleeping too much or too little, changes in appetite, feeling worthless, difficulty concentrating, and suicidal thoughts or actions.

What Is Anxiety? 

Anxiety can be another serious mental health struggle. It's characterized by symptoms of dread, fear, or unease beyond a typical response to stress. Underlying causes can include brain chemistry, genetics, stress, and your environment. 

Like depression, symptoms can range from mild to severe. Common symptoms include feeling tense or overly worried. Some physical symptoms may also be present, such as rapid heartbeat, sweating, or trembling. A certain amount of anxiety can be helpful in some situations, such as public speaking or before a test. However, anxiety disorders involve excessive and long-lasting feelings of fear and dread.

Like depression, there are a few different types of anxiety disorders. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common. Many people worry excessively about issues such as money and family. Their concerns are intense and may occur almost daily for several months at a time. Some people might also have a panic disorder with sudden, overwhelming feelings of fear called panic attacks. These attacks can occur very quickly and may last for several minutes. 

Depression and Anxiety: Can I Have Both at Once?

Depression and anxiety can occur separately or together. Approximately 26% of Americans ages 18 and older, or around one out of four adults, suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder every year, including major depression and bipolar disorder. They can be triggered by certain life events or made worse by chemical imbalances in the brain.

How Are These Conditions Treated?

The good news is that these disorders are also treatable. A healthcare professional might combine one or more options, including talk therapy, medications, and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). A form of psychotherapy that teaches you how to react differently to various stresses and triggers can help you confront uncomfortable feelings and situations. 

To treat anxiety, you might be prescribed anti-anxiety medications called benzodiazepines. Some people might also find that exercising naturally calms them down. You can try activities like:

Talking with a therapist or trusted friend or family member can also help.

To help you feel better and control your depression symptoms, your doctor might prescribe medication. Common options include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including Prozac, Lexapro, and Zoloft, or an atypical antipsychotic, such as Abilify or Seroquel. 

Some people find relief through conventional treatment. But for others, the side effects or ineffectiveness can prevent them from feeling better. Up to 33% of people don't respond to conventional treatment, despite numerous attempts. If the traditional medications aren't providing the relief you need, it might be time to consider a less conventional but promising alternative, such as psychedelic therapy.

What Is Psychedelic Therapy?

Another type of treatment is a non-traditional alternative called psychedelic therapy, which is an umbrella term for various modalities including ketamine, breathwork, meditations, and other similar treatments. It involves legal psychedelic medicine and talk therapy to reduce symptoms of depression. You'll receive a controlled dose of the substance under the supervision of your mental health professional. Psychedelic medicine can help overcome negative thinking habits and rigid thinking.

What Is Ketamine?

Angel dust. PCP. Special K. You might recognize ketamine from its association with street drugs and hallucinatory effects. It's popular in the club scene, but beyond the thumping music and bright lights is a potentially highly effective treatment for millions of Americans suffering from debilitating depression symptoms.

How Can Ketamine Therapy Treat Depression?

Long ago, ketamine was used as an anesthetic in operating rooms and veterinary clinics. It's become a breakthrough alternative in recent years, especially for individuals suffering from treatment-resistant depression (TRD). In 2019, a nasal spray treatment was approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to help treat TRD.

A big advantage of ketamine therapy is that relief can happen within 40 minutes. It can have huge benefits for those suffering from TRD as well as suicidal thoughts. Traditional medications may take several weeks to reach their peak effectiveness. 

Since ketamine works so quickly, it can provide fast relief from the crushing weight of deep depression and suicidal thoughts. This provides another option for the estimated 10% of Americans who have thought of suicide. Repeated IV ketamine infusions, along with psychotherapy, can also greatly reduce ongoing symptoms of PTSD and related trauma. Symptoms can be reduced within 24 hours and maintained for several weeks afterward.

How Does At-Home Ketamine Treatment Work?

Interested patients will start by completing a two-minute online assessment that will evaluate whether ketamine therapy is the right fit for you. Once that is determined, you can schedule a virtual appointment with a licensed healthcare professional that can address all your questions and concerns. 

After you have expressed your treatment goals, the licensed professional will devise a safe, personalized ketamine treatment plan for you, providing support for you every step of the way with careful attention to your health and safety. Ketamine is a possible option, even for those experiencing suicidal thoughts. One of the main side effects is disassociation or feeling disconnected from yourself or reality. Some people might also experience hallucinations. 

Some other common side effects, which often improve with subsequent treatments, include:

Is Ketamine Therapy Right for Me?

If you're still experiencing troubling symptoms of depression and/or anxiety despite conventional treatment, it might be time to explore the potential healing powers of psychedelics. 

As with any form of medication, it's important to weigh the pros and cons before starting ketamine therapy. For some, the side effects, including intense feelings of dissociation, may be intense. But if your depression persists and isn't responding appropriately to more traditional treatments, relief could come quickly with your first ketamine treatment. Some may experience life-changing relief from the deep roots of anxiety and depression that has chained them down for years.

What Patients are Saying  

Extensive research in clinical trials and patient feedback have shown how effective psychedelic therapy treatments can be for patients suffering from trauma and PTSD, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression. For those suffering from mood disorders, it has been shown to temporarily quiet a part of the brain called the “default mode network,” thus allowing you to re-wire your brain, ridding yourself of intrusive, negative thoughts, and creating new thought patterns. 

"I've been struggling with super high depression, anxiety and bipolar and super bad anger issues. The ketamine treatments are really out of this world. Better U has helped me in ways I can't explain, completely changed my mindset. The doctors at Better U are there to Better U. I appreciate everything they've done for me." – Sam 

“I'd like to share my experience with Better U and ketamine therapy because I don't think enough people know about it and it's been super helpful for me. I thought about running away from my problems like I usually do, quitting my job and moving to an island. My mentor asked me to try this before making any big decisions. After my first session, I was out of this rut! This is the first thing I've ever tried that allowed me to go inward and get clarity. My first session was like seeing a therapist 20 times, it allowed me to face things with a new perspective and without being overwhelmed. I'm feeling motivated and living intentionally and it's really great. I recommend Better U to anyone with anxiety and depression and nothing is working. Please try this before you give up hope!" – Kri

"I am so grateful that I found Better U Care! It’s honestly been the most effective treatment for depression I have ever tried. I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety at 9 and the last several years I have felt it becoming more and more treatment resistant. Ketamine really broke through that resistance and I am on the path toward healing I have been trying to find for so long. It’s more affordable with Better U Care than in clinic treatments and other online services. Every staff member I spoke too was incredibly kind and comforting and helpful. If you have been considering ketamine therapy I would 100% recommend their program." – Elsa

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