How Ketamine Makes Psychotherapy Extra Effective Helping Treat Depression

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When used together, ketamine and psychotherapy are more effective at treating depression than either alone. Combining these two therapies is especially helpful for patients who don’t respond as well to first-line treatments like antidepressant drugs or talk therapy alone. The exact mechanisms of this combination aren’t fully understood yet, but researchers have some leads. It’s no secret that the mental health of the general population is declining rapidly. Depression costs the global economy about 517 billion USD every year, with out-of-pocket expenses for treatment being a main driver. Additionally, in countries with universal healthcare access like Canada and Sweden, depression is still the third leading cause of disease burden (i.e. a measure of how much disease affects someone) among adults aged 25 to 45 years old . Furthermore, medication-resistant depression has an average prevalence rate of 33% . Given this context, novel approaches such as ketamine + psychotherapy may be beneficial in curing depression faster and reducing its recurrence rate after recovery.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic and psychedelic drug that has been used for decades in surgical procedures. In low doses, it causes mild psychedelic and dissociative effects. At higher doses, it causes complete dissociation from the body and environment, which is why it’s used as a general anaesthetic. Ketamine has been used off-label to treat depression since the 1970s, but only recently have its antidepressant effects been rigorously studied. It may have antidepressant properties because it regulates the flow of glutamate, a neurotransmitter that is responsible for communicating information within the brain. The exact mechanisms for how ketamine works are still being studied.

How Does Ketamine Help With Depression?

Ketamine helps with depression by regulating the flow of glutamate in the brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that communicate information within the brain, and glutamate is one of the main chemicals involved in the regulation of mood. A high-functioning brain network is the result of communication between many different parts of the brain. When this communication is disrupted, it can cause a wide variety of symptoms, including depression. Ketamine helps to regulate the flow of glutamate in the brain, promoting a better and more interconnected brain network. While current research shows that ketamine works on glutamate even in people without depression, the extent to which it regulates this neurotransmitter is different for every person. This means that the effectiveness of ketamine for treating depression is highly individual and not everyone will respond to it.

How Does Psychotherapy Help With Depression?

Psychotherapy is the practice of using psychological methods to help treat mental disorders. For example, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) is a psychotherapeutic approach to treating depression that focuses on identifying thoughts and behaviours that might be contributing to symptoms and then replacing them with more helpful ones. Psychotherapy has been shown to have antidepressant effects when treating depression. This is likely because it helps patients identify factors in their life that might be contributing to their depression and provides skills and tools to help them deal with these challenges. Psychotherapy has been shown to help people with depression identify and challenge self-defeating thoughts and behaviours, reduce rumination on negative thoughts, and improve their interpersonal relationships.

How the Two Together Help With Depression?

When ketamine and psychotherapy are used together, each therapy synergizes with the other’s effects. Psychotherapy helps patients identify and challenge negative thoughts and behaviours that might be contributing to their depression. Meanwhile, ketamine helps regulate the flow of glutamate in the brain, which can help promote the benefits of psychotherapy in a more efficient way. This is because when glutamate is flowing more efficiently, the brain is better able to communicate information between different regions, which is necessary for effective psychotherapy. Moreover, both ketamine and psychotherapy activate neuroplasticity, the brain’s ability to rewire itself and become stronger. Neuroplasticity is one of the main reasons antidepressants are effective. Thus, when ketamine and psychotherapy are used together, they promote each other’s effects and result in a more efficient rewiring of the brain.


Overall, ketamine and psychotherapy used together have been shown to have more powerful antidepressant effects than ketamine or psychotherapy alone. This is possibly because of synergies between the two therapies. Both ketamine and psychotherapy promote neuroplasticity and help regulate the flow of glutamate, the main chemical involved in the regulation of mood. This means that the two therapies together have the potential to treat more severe cases of depression, such as cases that don’t respond to first-line treatments like antidepressant drugs or CBT alone. Since the mechanisms of ketamine and psychological therapy are different, they can be used together as a more powerful combination that can treat depression more effectively than either therapy alone.


Clear Mind Treatment is a 45-90 day program specialized in treatment resistant depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD using traditional psychotherapy and cutting edge technologies, like Ketamine, TMS, EMDR. We are a big fan of neuroplasticity and meditation and believe that when you can change your thought and feeling patterns, you can change your life. We take most PPO insurance, medicare, and AHCCES in Arizona. Give us a call anytime 310-571-5957 www.clearmindtreatment.com

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