Frequently Asked Questions
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. It was approved for use by the FDA in the 1970’s and its safety is well established. It is very commonly used for anesthesia during surgical procedures, particularly in pediatric and emergency medicine. Doses for surgical purposes are much higher than those used in Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP), which are considered sub-anesthetic.
Sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine to treat conditions like mental illness or pain are newer, off-label uses of ketamine that have not yet been approved by the FDA. However, there have been many studies demonstrating ketamine’s efficacy for various psychiatric disorders, particularly “treatment resistant” depression due to its rapid onset, safety and short duration of action.
How does Ketamine work?
Ketamine is a NMDA receptor antagonist. It causes glutamate release in the brain, which is an excitatory neurotransmitter thought to trigger a cascade of effects resulting in a unique state of neuroplasticity (the brains ability to change) and neurogenesis (production of new neurons). This is believed to play an important role in Ketamine’s therapeutic benefits. This is a different pathway than commonly used psychiatric drugs.
The dissociative effects of ketamine refer to a disconnection from ones ordinary reality and usual sense of self; including between mind and body. During ketamine use, most people experience mild anesthetic, empathogenic, anxiolytic, anti-depressant and, potentially, psychedelic effects. Some people have “peak” experiences often described as “mystical”, “spiritual”, “out-of-body” or involve a sense of ego-dissolution. These “peak” experiences are more common with higher doses. Research links greater dissociative experiences with improved anti-depressant outcomes, suggesting that these states are what offer people an opportunity to catalyze deep, transformative change. This may involve positive change in perspective, alleviation of existential fears, and characterological change and growth. However, there currently is no consensus on exactly what mechanism of action is responsible for ketamines effects.
How long is treatment?
The current literature recommends 4-6 ketamine sessions for treatment resistant depression, though course of treatment is unique and curated to meet each individuals needs. Sessions usually happen weekly, but can be spaced out more if necessary. Courses of treatments vary from a few weeks to months.
How much does it cost?
Ketamine and KAP are treatments that are not approved by the FDA. As a result, they are not covered by commercial insurance companies. You may request a superbill of services provided to submit to your insurance. They may reimburse some of your costs, but it is your responsibility to speak to your insurance to determine if they will reimburse you and how much.
Bird's Eye Wellness accepts cash, check or credit card (with previous agreement) for services. Please refer to "payment" section of website for exact costs for specific services. Payment is expected at the time of service.
We realize that cost can be a barrier to accessing this type of service for some individuals. We strive to increase accessibility to these services for all, regardless of financial resources - our ability to do this is contingent on the bulk of our clients paying the full rates. Please let us know if cost is an issue for you. You will be added to a list and clients will be randomly selected for services when funds are available.
What is KAP and what is it used to treat?
Please refer to our informed consent document for more details:
Sub-anesthetic doses of ketamine to treat conditions like mental illness or pain are newer, off-label uses of ketamine that have not yet been approved by the FDA. However, there have been many studies demonstrating ketamine’s efficacy for various psychiatric disorders, particularly “treatment resistant” depression. Other conditions that have promising data supporting efficacy include anxiety disorders, trauma disorders, OCD, eating disorders and certain substance use disorders.
Ketamine can be used as a stand-alone pharmacologic treatment within a more medical model; such as with nasal esketamine (Spravato) or as a ketamine infusion. Ketamine-Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP) differs in that it is a more integrative and holisitic approach to the use of ketamine; valuing intention, invocation of our own internal healing intelligence, and support in finding insights and making meaning out of the experience to promote long-lasting change through integration therapy.