Ketamine-Assisted Therapy: Transforming Depression and Dependency

Host April Pride shares her post-pandemic personal journey, highlighting her change of heart regarding ketamine-assisted therapy. Discover how ketamine treatments transformed her post-divorce depression and helped address daily cannabis dependency. Gain insights into the conditions ketamine successfully treats, its dissociative qualities, and the potential for abuse.
a woman with eyes closed relfecting on profound insights gained in ketamine therapy

Ketamine Pt 3 – How Some Are Treating Depression with Ketamine Assisted Therapy

The High Guide’s creator and host April Pride continues sharing her post-pandemic personal journey and opens up about her change of heart as it relates to ketamine-assisted therapy after her own transformative telehealth treatments. April credits ketamine with helping her through post-divorce depression that was compounded by daily cannabis dependency.
After listening to this episode, you will have a better understanding of:

  • The conditions ketamine is successfully treating
  • Ketamine for depression
  • Ketamine’s dissociative qualities
  • The potential for abuse ketamine carries

Episode Guests

Dr. Bridget Carnahan, Field Trip Health
Kaia Roman, Women’s Psychedelic Network
Lauren Swanson, Wondermed

Episode Resources & Additional Reading

Click here to complete Wondermed’s eligibility survey, and at checkout enter code TheHighGuide for 20% off your first (4) at-home ketamine lozenges.
Rick Doblin on Psyched podcast with Kaia Roman [LINK]

More Episodes from the Podcast

Podcast Episode Full Transcription

0:00:00.0 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: If you’ve dissociated, you would know it, because it’s pretty remarkable to actually forget who you are, and forget where you are.

0:00:12.0 April Pride, host: Hey. I’m April Pride, your host on The High Guide podcast. This is the show for women who have an open and curious mind, and this is a show all about women changing their lives, thanks to altered states. You just heard from Kaia Roman who wrote the book on joy in the brain and wants the world to know that psychedelics are tooLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed that are medically proven to deliver chemicaLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed that spark joy in our brain. And we’ll learn more about the neuroscience component of ketamine in next week’s episode. Today we’re gonna discuss the conditions for which ketamine is being prescribed, the effects of ketamine, specifically dissociation, and Kaia’s gonna talk to us about how ketamine helped her get through her divorce.

0:00:50.2 April Pride, host: For today’s show, have you like me had mixed thoughts on ketamine? And by mixed, all my all in with all things friends all love K the most, whereas therapists and psychedelic facilitators are aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo fans of ketamine to assist in therapy. In today’s episode we’ll learn why this commonly used analgesic, with serious reports of abuse is aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo approved off label for use by the FDA to treat depression. Before my recent personal experience with ketamine, my understanding of it was washed in fear due to its reportedly highly addictive qualities.

0:01:26.6 April Pride, host: We’ll get into that and why I had a change of heart, and how to my surprise, ketamine came in clutch for my mental health this year. As with every episode, we’ll jump into the word of the week, and stay tuned to the almost in when I share three trip tips.

0:01:40.5 April Pride, host: Now, for the word of the week, dissociation. Dissociation is a mental process where a person disconnects from their thoughts, feelings, memories or sense of identity. You may feel disconnected from yourself and the world around you, as if you’re detached from your body or feel as though the world around you is unreal. Everyone’s experience of dissociation is different. We covered a lot in our episode two weeks ago. Here’s a hint, if you wanna catch up quickly, tune in to episode 52, listen to the last five minutes before the episode’s trip tips, I share timeline in how this is evolved because the bird’s-eye perspective gives you insight into how this all came together for me in real time. It’s for sure worth a listen. Our featured guest today is Kaia Roman, author of The Joy Plan, combining her 20 years in Silicon Valley working in scientific research, focused on hormones, neurotransmitters and mindfulness. In her book, Kaia defined joy as the spiritual dimension of happiness.

0:02:36.9 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: I really consider myself to be a researcher and a serial entrepreneur. So I’ve started many businesses, and I wrote The Joy Plan about the neuroscience of joy and hopefully told in a way that inspires other people to put simple practices into place in their lives so that they can kind of hack their brain to experience more joy.

0:03:00.1 April Pride, host: Kaia’s book, The Joy Plan, was born after a plan to launch an epigenetic software company. Well, that did not launch as planned.

0:03:07.3 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: So I was in the opposite state of joy, really just was taking notes on what I was doing as a researcher to try and feel better and those notes became a book. It ended up being on The Today Show for an entire week.

0:03:20.3 April Pride, host: So how did Kaia find herself, a woman in psychedelics?

0:03:24.0Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: I got a lot of invitations to come try different experiences because of my writing, and I was invited to a retreat center in Costa Rica to have a free week yoga, massages, cleanses, life coaching and something called plant medicine. And I was like, “Oh, cool. Plants like ginger, garlic. I use plant medicine.” So I had no idea actually that I was gonna be drinking Ayahuasca, which is a psychedelic tea brewed in the Amazon, that was my first kind of introduction to psychedelic medicine, this was in 2017, right after my book came out. And it really literally blew my mind when I saw this door that opens when you have a psychedelic experience. And I aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo started obsessively searching what happened to my brain during that experience, and I realized that all the things that I wrote about in The Joy Plan would be so much easier to achieve if you could create a state of extra neuroplasticity, which happens after a psychedelic experience.

0:04:21.1 April Pride, host: Kaia went from eating ginger to hosting her own podcast called Psyched. It’s on the Women In Psychedelics Network. In next week’s episode, we’ll hear more from Kaia on how Ketamine interacts with our brain, and we’ll aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo hear from Dr. Carnahan from Field Trip and Lauren Swanson from ketamine telehealth company Wondermed Today, Kaia and I are here to talk about ketamine for divorce. Like me, she found herself managing a divorce and amid locked down Kaia was stressed out.

0:04:46.8 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: After my psychedelic awakening. Hey, husband, are you gonna be on this journey with me? Because it’s pretty hard, I’d say, to pick someone in your early 20s and say, “We’re gonna be on this journey for the rest of our lives together.” You can hope, you can dream, but if you’re not growing on the same path, you will grow apart. That happens in more than 50% of marriages, right? So in my case, we grew apart and that was right before the pandemic, and then we found ourselves in lockdown in this house together while we had already started this divorce process, so it was all very, very stressful.

0:05:25.5 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: But I had a friend who I was talking to about ayahuasca and how amazing that journey had been for me, and he said, “You should really try ketamine because it’s like the short, beautiful part of the Ayahuasca journey without the purging, without the darkness, without the preparation, without the hours of experience or going to another country, but it can really provide relief.” And at that time, I desperately needed relief.

0:05:48.9 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: So my first ketamine experience in a clinic was at the very beginning of March of 2020, right before the pandemic, and I flew to Florida to have these treatments, and then I came back to California and ended up in this lockdown. And I think that if I hadn’t had the ketamine, which gave me so much relief from the, just anxiety and turmoil that I was experiencing, they list divorce as one of the most stressful life activities, the most stressful life experiences that we can ever go through. I was struggling, I was… Honestly, I was suicidal and that was the main thing that I had heard ketamine can break suicidal ideation immediately more than anything. It’s an awful feeling, if anyone out there who’s listening has ever been in that state where your rational mind knows, that would be really stupid to kill myself, I’ve got kids, I’m sure there’s great things still ahead of me in my life, I have a lot going for me. You just really, really, really don’t wanna live. It’s terrible.

0:06:46.7 April Pride, host: I can relate to where Kaia was. I was suicidal after the birth of my second son, and I had not been diagnosed with ADHD yet is what was happening, right when I was postpartum. I understand thinking about suicide and aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo thinking that, “You’re crazy to think about this. You have a beautiful life and a beautiful family. What is wrong with you.”

0:07:05.5 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: Yes.

0:07:06.3 April Pride, host: So meditation saved me at that point, but ketamine saved me this past fall…

0:07:12.8 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: Oh, I’m so glad.

0:07:13.8 April Pride, host: When I didn’t realize that I was suffering from what I would call and what seems to be high functioning depression. I had done enough research where I knew that there was an opportunity for me to really reset my relationship with cannabis. Lauren Swanson, lead clinician at Wondermed, shares the story of one of her patients who was in a depression and cannabis dependency loop before ketamine gave him space to develop new behaviors.

0:07:37.0 Lauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed: This actually reminds me of this patient that was a young man in his early 20s, had severe social anxiety disorder, and he would smoke weed every day. That was his coping mechanism and how he was able to then get out of the house in circle situations. He aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo had depression, so he had complete severe depression as well. So when he came to us, his intention was not to stop smoking at all, because that was just kind of what he had done to cope, his intention was to come to us to hope to feel better, ’cause he had this major depression and a social anxiety disorder. And after just one month of the treatment, he told me just as you, he’s not smoking at all is because when he smoked, especially the amount that he was smoking, he felt disconnected with the world and just kind of like a wallflower in these social environments, and that the ketamine brought out the opposite, to where he wanted to engage, ask people how they’re doing and be present in the moment. And I thought that was such a beautiful story.

0:08:37.8 April Pride, host: Depression and anxiety disorder is the primary condition for which patients are turning to ketamine. While not approved for treatment, there is evidence from positive patient outcomes that Ketamine-assisted therapy is successful in the treatment of OCD and substance use disorder. In the case of each of these conditions, pharmaceuticaLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed like SSRIs can take two to three months to gain traction, whereas clinical research has shown that Ketamine improves symptoms after a single treatment, with effects lasting up to a week. So how is this possible? Dr. Carnahan, who you met in the season’s first episode, explains what may be a play.

0:09:13.1 Dr. Bridget Carnahan, Field Trip Health: So it’s not going to fix the problem, and I think that’s really important for people to understand that Ketamine comes in and it resets this pattern, so it gives you a period of freedom from that habitual experience, it gives you this window where you can experience what it’s like to not be in that automatic fear-based response, to not be in a brain fog. And what works best, I think, for people is if they are already coming in with some tooLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed, they’ve been in psychotherapy, they have recognized habitual thought patterns that are negative or self-defeating, and they’ve been working already with them to try to recognize them, to observe them and say, “I don’t need to engage in this thought pattern, but I just habitually do it and I’m having a really hard time stopping.” Ketamine can come in and make it easier to stop if you’ve already identified what that is.

0:10:09.4 April Pride, host: Irony is not lost on me that Ketamine, a substance with the potential for abuse, which is why it is a schedule 3, is what helped with my insatiable weed cravings. But it’s important to know that Ketamine-assisted therapy is not approved to treat substance use disorder. So if you’re considering ketamine to curb craving of any kind, get curious about why those cravings exist. What is your choice go to helping you get away from. For me, it turns out that my depression was feeding into my reliance on cannabis, so ketamine helped to treat the cause of my need to find satisfaction. And let’s assume, I’m difficult to satisfy, ongoing ketamine treatments paired with integrative practices, which we’ll discuss more in a later episode, help prolong the positive effects.

0:10:54.4 Lauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed: Addiction centers are using ketamine. We don’t know the exact science of it stopping the withdrawal symptoms that you’re having, but it does. I mean people really lose even that desire to use, but then the point that you spoke on is really tapping into that neuroplasticity, which is you’re training your brain that you don’t need this anymore, and you have new avenues to deal with your stress and anxiety. And then you really train and program your brain while you’re on the ketamine to then once you’re off of it, hopefully that’s still sticks. So you have this long lasting effect, which is very different from something like Wellbutrin, which is aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo used for smoking cessations. Take it for what, three months, sometimes six months to really get that habit out of their system, whereas something like ketamine is working so much faster because of that neuroplasticity.

0:11:42.0 April Pride, host: And we’ll get into what’s happening in the brain in next week’s episode. A core benefit of ketamine-assisted therapy is to find a reprieve from emotions and physical pain that remain from, say, childhood trauma. Dissociation, our word of the week, is an effect that characterizes a ketamine experience and is often why recreational users seek Ket to begin with. Kaia had this to offer on what dissociation feeLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed like.

0:12:09.4 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: Ketamine is an anesthetic, they use it in surgery to put people to sleep, it is that beginning phase when you start to leave, but then you stay right there. If you’ve dissociated, you would know it, because it’s pretty remarkable to actually forget who you are and forget where you are. PTSD or anxiety or depression, that is a huge relief, even just to get 5 minutes or 10 minutes or 45 minutes of I’m not connected to my problems right now, then when you come back, that relief can be sustained. You’re not afraid because it’s blissful, it’s a blissful experience. With the dissociation, the effect, there’s, in the scientific community and the medical community, there’s some disagreement about whether dissociation is important or not. Been some studies that say one way, yes, and one way, no. For me, personally, I just think it’s an amazing experience, and when you want to dislocate from negative thoughts, it is kind of essential.

0:13:08.5 April Pride, host: In a later episode, we’re going to review the different types of ketamine administration and how potency affects the extent of our dissociation. Listen on, as I ask both Laura and Kaia about ketamine-induced dissociation, and it’s potentially triggering effect for sexual abuse survivors.

0:13:24.8 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: Speaking as a person who has experienced sexual trauma and dissociated during that experience, and I can only speak from my own experience. They are two very different things. It’s not the same kind of dissociation. Yes, in dissociation, you float above your body, but it’s very different to float above your body because of what’s happening is unsafe, and to float above your body because you’re merging with God. Actually, I think that could be very healing for the dissonance of the previous dissociative experience. I’m only one person who is not a doctor or a physio researcher, I just have a lot of conversations with people about their ketamine experiences. And given that so many women, unfortunately, have had some kind of sexual trauma, heard probably thousands of these stories and nobody has ever brought that up. I can just speak from my own experience, it was not triggering for me in that way at all. But that the kind of dissociation that you have with ketamine is like a exhale, it’s like a relief. You can let go, You’re not escaping something. You’re letting go, you’re surrendering to something beautiful.

0:14:31.0 Lauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed: And actually something eLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermede to consider for individuaLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed that are in that category, is that if they have used dissociation in the past to separate themselves from that traumatic event, even at the time of the event happening, that PTSD associated with the dissociation, sometimes the ketamine can actually backfire and that it almost triggers that feeling of being dissociated from your body, which they don’t like. So really, for any individual that has very severe deep-rooted PTSD trauma, that person may benefit more from a program like ours using it with their therapist. They could actually see their therapist maybe the next day or a few hours after the session itself to really unpack that. We do tell people, because part of it is aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo explaining, this is how it’s gonna feel, everyone is different in how they perceive their ketamine session, but it is really important as far as our jobs as well to understand how are you going to feel, what is the session going to be like, could bring up some difficult history? And of course, in the session itself, you are dissociated, so it’s really coming out of it that that tend to be the most traumatic for those individuaLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed.

0:15:48.8 Lauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermed: But dealing with the dissociation is quite interesting. You have this mental dissociation where you don’t feel the anger, shame, all of those. You aLauren Swanson, PA-C, Wondermedo have a physical dissociation, literally, if someone does have a migraine or their migraine gets better, their pain improves, they don’t feel like they’re connecting in their body. So you have this physical dissociation, and then you have this other piece that we talked about it with women with trauma. It’s not a disqualifier by any means, but it’s just more of a conversation of caution, and if that does trigger something that that may need to be worked through. I will say workable in trauma.

0:16:25.4 April Pride, host: I leave you with today’s trip tips. What are your eye movements if you’re beginning to dissociate? What does that look like?

0:16:33.3 Kaia Roman, Psyched Podcast: Apparently, it’s very rapid movement, like an REM.

0:16:35.4 April Pride, host: Okay, as I mentioned earlier in the show, Kaia Roman is the host of the Women in Psychedelics Network podcast called Psyched. I asked Kaia which episode she’d like for me to refer listeners of this show too, and she said her conversation with Rick Doblin, not a woman, but definitely a legend in psychedelic assisted therapy. I’ve linked to Kaia’s episode of the Psyched podcast with Rick Doblin in today’s episodes show notes.

0:16:58.5 April Pride, host: And finally, if this series is connecting with you and you’d like to take your healing process in this direction, explore ketamine, I have linked to Wondermed’s eligibility survey in this episode’s show notes as well. After completing Wondermed’s eligibility survey, enter code The High Guide, T-H-E H-I-G-H G-U-I-D-E at check out for 20% off your first for at home ketamine lozenges. And this is the protocol that I took.

0:17:25.7 April Pride, host: Thank you for listening to this episode of The High Guide. I’m your host, April Pride. Please check out the website, for our shroom strain reviews and guide psilocybin. Tune in next Friday for another episode of The High Guide, a show all about women changing their lives, thanks to altered states of consciousness.

Episode Credits

Producer & Host: April Pride

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