The Emergence of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy: Transforming Mental Health Treatment

Noah Warren
August 7, 2023

Mental health conditions like depression, suicidal ideation, and PTSD are complex and often treatment-resistant. Conventional medical treatments have limitations in treating these conditions, leading researchers to investigate alternative treatment approaches. One innovative treatment approach that has emerged in recent years is ketamine assisted psychotherapy.

This treatment leverages the brain's neuroplasticity to promote healing and recovery. In this article, we will explore how ketamine assisted psychotherapy emerged as a promising treatment for depression, suicidal ideation, and PTSD, and delve into the FDA clearance of esketamine and the difference between ketamine and esketamine.

ketamine assisted psychotherapy

The Emergence of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy

Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, was first approved for human use in 1970. However, it wasn't until the 1990s that researchers began exploring the potential therapeutic benefits of ketamine. Dr. John Krystal, a Yale psychiatrist, conducted groundbreaking research on the effectiveness of ketamine for treating depression. He discovered that ketamine rapidly reduced depressive symptoms, including suicidal ideation, in patients who had not responded to other treatments.

Ketamine's unique mechanism of action can help explain its effectiveness. Ketamine works by blocking the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, leading to increased production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein involved in the growth and rejuvenation of brain cells. This increase in BDNF production triggers neuroplasticity, which leads to the formation of new neural connections and the strengthening of existing ones.

The Role of Neuroplasticity in Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy

Neuroplasticity is essential to ketamine assisted psychotherapy. The treatment engages and leverages neuroplasticity by encouraging the brain to form new neural pathways associated with positive emotions and behaviors. Research has shown that ketamine assisted psychotherapy elicits a "psychedelic state" that promotes the development of new neural pathways, leading to symptom improvement and recovery.

The Advancement of Ketamine Assisted Therapy

In 2019, the FDA approved esketamine, a nasal spray formulation of ketamine, for the treatment of depression 4. Esketamine has a lower potential for abuse than ketamine, with faster onset and shorter duration of action. While both drugs work in similar ways, esketamine has a more controlled delivery system, making it easier for clinicians to administer and adjust the dosage.


Ketamine assisted psychotherapy has emerged as a promising new treatment approach for depression, suicidal ideation, and PTSD. The treatment leverages the brain's neuroplasticity to promote healing and recovery by encouraging the formation of new neural pathways associated with positive emotions and behaviors. The FDA clearance of esketamine has further legitimized the use of ketamine for mental health conditions and provided clinicians with safer and more convenient treatment options.

While more research is needed, the emergence of ketamine assisted psychotherapy provides hope for patients who have not responded to conventional treatments and require innovative and effective therapies.

Explore the promising realm of ketamine assisted psychotherapy. For those seeking beyond conventional, we're here to offer innovative pathways to healing. Step forward with hope and let's journey together towards effective solutions. Connect with Roots Mental Wellness today – where breakthroughs await.

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Noah Warren
Director of Business Development