April 20, 2024

Can Ketamine Therapy Help With Depression?

The plan was to have a shot in my arm of 25mg ketamine. After this, I’d float off into a dissociative, psychedelic trip. I had an eye mask on and noise-cancelling headphones that softly played a soundtrack of meditative music (think yin yoga class vibes). Jenna had a microphone and a notepad, so she could speak to me if I had anything to say and promised to write down her observations.

Halfway through my hour-long session, a nurse would come in and offer another dose of the same amount. I could choose to accept and «go deeper» or say no thanks — and was assured there was no right or wrong answer.

How had I ended up in that ridiculously sexy, new-age therapy chair? Ketamine came into my life at a time I was feeling very lazy about my mental health. I’d just quit going to therapy after three years because the amount of effort I was putting into every session didn’t quite warrant the (expensive, out-of-network) price I was paying. More and more, it felt like a tedious work check-in — I’d clock in for an hour, talk some stuff out, and then wouldn’t think much about it for the next week. My once-rigorous self-care routine, which involved a lot of running and other cardio, had dwindled to a few nights of yoga a week. It seemed like life was walking me on a leash. I had no sense of agency. I spent a lot of time staring at the ceiling.

Normal depression stuff, I guess. But all the mindless Instagram scrolling that comes with feeling the big sads was good for one thing. Somehow, the little goblins who live inside my phone knew I wasn’t feeling my best, so the algorithm served me up a few TikToks about ketamine treatment.

Smiling influencers who looked like they washed their hair that day — something I had little energy for — raved about their infusions, which they said were the only thing that made them feel hopeful, renewed, or energised. As a closet full of clothes with weird cutouts that I literally never wear can attest to, I am not immune to the allure of a sponsored ad. I decided to learn more about ketamine.

It was a drug I’d tried before, albeit without my consent. Well, I took it willingly at a party, but a different kind of powder — and I wouldn’t have tried it if I knew what I was taking. (Thankfully, this was back when teddy coats were just getting cool again, so I collapsed in the cocoon of a friend’s jacket, cuddled up, and rode it out. ) I wondered what would happen if I tried it in optimal settings, on a big comfy chair, near soft surroundings, with a professional at my side.

Most of all, I wanted to get out of myself for a while. What would the world look like if it didn’t feel so scary? Who would I be if I shed some layers of trauma? Could I get my brain back to a time when I was a little less bruised and a little more soft?

How does ketamine therapy work?

«During the psychedelic experience, many people often are able to revisit past moments, past life experiences, past traumas in their lives, and just see them from a degree of objectivity,» Field Trip co-founder Ronan Levy says. «And with that degree of objectivity, one can release or let go some of the emotional attachments that may exist around it, kind of like what you try to get through conventional [talk] therapy that usually takes months or years. «

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