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The Healing Power of Dissociation

The Healing Power of Dissociation

Peace comes from letting go.  We encounter a paradox in our lives growing as children through adolescence into adulthood, where we recognize the importance of developing our ego stance in order to live within social constraints and cultural boundaries and to develop our own cognitive and character traits. Yet, for our mental health as young adults and later in life it is important to engage in practices that loosen our ego identification with the world and allow us to recharge our energetic core through flow states. 

These flow states are possible only to the extent that we let go of our ego and our more narrowly focused cognition, and allow for a fluid, integrative orientation with our surroundings. For example, when we engage in certain activities such as martial arts or athletics, there comes a time when your training becomes integrated with your participatory practice in such a way that the more you let go of the thinking part of your mind and let your body flow with the experience of what you have learned, the more on-point you are with your movements and your ability to anticipate the sequence of events to follow. There is an aspect of dissociation at play when one enters a flow state that allows for this integrative experience. We need to create moments in this type of flow zone in order to maintain strong energetic, physical and mental health as we age.

Ketamine infusion therapy proves to be an effective treatment for mental health precisely because of the dissociative effects that it creates regarding our ego stance. There is the neurobiological process that Ketamine infusion plays at the synaptic sites of the glutamate neurotransmitter system in the brain. And there is the ego dissolution that takes place in the deeper structures of the mind that studies have shown leads to more robust antidepressant effects in patients who report experiencing dissociation during an infusion. The process of breaking down the barriers that our ego so carefully constructs is dependent on many factors. One factor is, of course, the Ketamine dosage administered per session, which is why levels are titrated over the course of one’s treatment plan. Another factor is one’s state of mind and openness to experience when beginning a session. It is beneficial to understand the different types of dissolution one may encounter during a Ketamine infusion therapy to be mentally prepared.  Know that if you ever encounter an unpleasant sensation or revelation during your session, the best practice to fall back on is to breathe deeply and let yourself be curious about what you are seeing, feeling, or sensing. Let go of trying to stay in the driver’s seat and see where your journey takes you with childlike curiosity. 

There are four types, or stages, of ego dissolution, that one may encounter at varying times during the infusion treatment, or throughout the course of one’s treatment plan.

Empathogenic Experience is the first phase of ego dissolution that results in a more centered awareness of one’s body often with a sense of comfort associated with relaxing into the energetic core of one’s body. Ego defenses begin to relax and often experiences of empathy, compassion and love are described, as well as a sense of warmth as if wrapped by a blanket or feeling a sense of peace. Sometimes vivid colors set in along with a feeling of euphoria and lightness or a dreamy state of mind.    

Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) is the next phase of dissociation that results in a separation of mind from body with significantly reduced ego defenses. These experiences often lead to emotionally charged images of significant people or places in one’s life (past, present or future), sometimes mythologically significant or stemming from the deeper reaches of the psyche. 

 Near-Death Experience (NDE) is the third phase of a complete ego dissolution, complete loss of identity (psychological death) and experience of full disembodiment (physical death) as one may experience being a single point of consciousness in the universal fold. Or there may be a reliving of one’s actions from a moral stance, a judgment of self to the extent that one remains.   

 Ego-Dissolving Transcendental Experience (EDT) is the fourth and final phase of dissociation that results in the complete melting away of boundaries between one’s body and the environment, leading to a complete transcendence of matter and the spacetime continuum. Overall, at this stage of ecstatic state of being some individuals experience a sense of union with the universe, with the energetic ground of nature, or with a larger collective consciousness. This state of ego dissolution generally leads to a sacred awareness of our connection with the universe, or feelings of union with the divine.

Dissociation creates the fertile ground for changes in perspectives that provide a profound shift in attitude and approach to one’s challenges. The ability of our ego to ‘let go’ is a measure of mental health and a marker of resilience. The healing power of dissociation stems from integrating our energetic mind-body and soul. Learn more about Ketamine infusion therapy today.

Mitigating Migraines with Alternative Treatment Methods

Mitigating Migraines with Alternative Treatment Methods

Stress in America is at an all-time high as we grapple with changes in how we live that have an impact on our minds and bodies. There are new and shifting cultural and environmental landscapes that are challenging us and stretching our resources too thinly. Mental health has reached a public health crisis as we contend with an increase in stress and a rise in physical and mental illness, while we face a shortage of mental health providers able to take on new patients. We will continue to live with high levels of stress as we readjust to a post-pandemic life, as well as contend with the economic fallout of COVID-19, and climate change, that will continue to reshape the contours of our environment. So too, the lack of access to mental healthcare providers, and in some rural areas a lack of access to healthcare altogether, will continue to ripple through society in the years to come. 

Providing alternative, cutting-edge treatment in mental health is imperative with the increase in stress and traumas in our communities. Ketamine Health Centers has positioned itself to address these pressures by combining proven psychotherapeutic methods alongside alternative treatment options that provide more immediate relief to a wide range of mental and physical health challenges. We now offer a new treatment for migraine relief.

Headaches (in particular tension headaches) are associated with stress and many of the negative trends that are on the rise such as excessive screen time, as well as lack of restorative sleep. Although a literature review shows that more studies are needed to work through the causal connections between stress and headaches (migraines in particular), there appears to be a more direct connection between high-stress events and the chronic migraines, the transition of infrequent, episodic migraines to chronic or frequently experienced levels. 

Migraines are often comorbid with mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. Migraines affect 35 million Americans and about 10% of the world population experience migraines or other headache disorders. Migraines remain second among the world’s causes of disability, and first among young women, leading to lost productivity and decreased quality of life for billions of individuals. The discrepancy for women regarding health outcomes is not surprising given the realities that women face no matter where in the world they find themselves. Healthcare (at the research, prevention, and care levels) and economic instability, alongside a changing climate, affect women disproportionately around the globe.

The impact of stress-related headache disorders disproportionately impacts women around the globe as well. COVID and the economic fallout due to job loss with loss of access to child care have impacted women most heavily. The potential for increased levels of stress, anxiety, and depression will be felt throughout many homes, for years as we contend with a loss of over 1 million women in the US labor force alone. The blurring of work and home life that still affects so many today is generally more burdensome for working mothers. But all individuals facing these conditions face increasing stress, and fewer opportunities for self-care and tension release, potentially inducing a predisposition to mental health disorders. Additionally, the UN has detailed over the decades the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, in particular poor women around the world. Access to healthcare also affects women disproportionately, even in the US, as a Kaiser Women’s Health Survey details. Still, the deleterious effects of migraines affect all demographics. 

 Ketamine Health Centers, dedicated to providing cutting-edge treatment for today’s mental health challenges, offers several alternative approaches to treat migraine and headache disorders. A new migraine relief method using Botox (botulinum toxin) is an effective FDA-approved treatment for chronic migraines, in many cases providing up to three months of preventative relief. A tailored Botox treatment can reduce the frequency of episodes by 50-80%. Learn more about the process and qualifications for treatment.

Ketamine infusion therapy is another alternative treatment option known to help mitigate headaches and helps reduce migraine severity, especially when accompanied by other mental health disorders alleviated by ketamine treatment and psychotherapy. Experiencing relief of symptoms of depression and anxiety can lead to preventative relief of migraines. An additional approach to headache and migraine relief offered through our clinics is through our partnership with Alive providing specialty infusion treatments for acute (abortive) migraine relief. 

Contact us today to learn more about these various cutting-edge treatment methods that can provide you with immediate and lasting migraine relief.

Creating Balance through Grace and Purpose

Creating Balance through Grace and Purpose

Many of us feel as if we are walking a tightrope at present, trying to manage our overloaded plates while teetering on the edge of uncertainty, upheaval and loss. Harnessing the energy that comes from creating purpose can provide us with balance, along with building connections with supportive people in our life. No matter how divided we may appear to be, there are strenuous states of affairs that we are experiencing collectively, and it is bringing many to a breaking point. Being mindful of this can help us confront each other with grace instead of a short fuse. Making it all the more necessary to take time for self-care and to build our support network around us so that we can develop that grace within.  

The more we bring community action into our daily life, the more purpose we can create in our world. A simple practice that gets you out of your home and into nature, while building community connections, is sitting or playing at your neighborhood park striking up a conversation with someone new. Or consider hiking a nearby trail with a friend, with a garbage bag in gloved hand to collect trash, as you walk and listen to one another providing support while serving your community along the way. Take your child for a walk around the block picking up trash and recycling as an alternative. Introduce yourselves to new people at the far end of your neighborhood, if given the opportunity during your walk. You’ll be inclined to say (or wave) hello the next time you see them.

There are also subtle ways to build community. Now that the weather is warming, and we can comfortably relax into a new maskless routine, we can appreciate the small things that help us reconnect. Seeing people’s smiles and full faces and recognizing acquaintances better is something to take notice of at this moment. We can hear each other better, too! Perhaps that experience of having a hard time understanding each other while we were masked can teach us to listen to each other better. That level of grace can keep us balanced to endure these challenging steps ahead.

 The anecdotes and the research are clear – we face a critical moment as we walk this tightrope. There are too many aspects of our lives that create conditions of sustained stress and the compounding increase of negative coping skills. The APA’s Stress in America poll reveals the many layers and unveils many vulnerabilities that signal a mental health crisis that we must address. Principle among them is the public health concern with the drastic increase in stress, financial strain, rise in substance abuse (and other detrimental coping behaviors), and the spillover effects into crime and violence in our communities. A recent article in The Atlantic details the recent spike in erratic behavior among Americans and suggests Durkheim’s concept of “anomie, or a lack of social norms that leads to lawlessness,” as the driver of “weird behavior” as of late. The social isolation due to the pandemic and the shifts in societal norms as a result of changing cultural and political landscapes do play a role. Making self-care, through wellness and the development of purpose-driven agency and community building, most important considering these factors. 

The best way to begin to rebuild our connective tissue is to focus on the relationships around us. Doing our best to show up as our better self, especially when someone else needs a little more grace than you do. And give yourself the grace you deserve to let go of unreasonable expectations that everything is OK. It is alright to acknowledge that you are not OK, that all is not well, if that is the case. Together we will regain our personal agency and come back stronger than before with all that we have gained despite (and because of) all that we have lost.

Ketamine Health Centers is your community mental health partner here to walk with you in this process of growth, healing and self-care that is especially important for us now.  Contact us today to learn about our cutting-edge alternative treatment methods, tailored to meet your specific support needs. Our multifaceted approach to addressing mental health challenges can provide you, or your loved one, the support network necessary to create your healing path and generate that grace within.

The Future of Mental Health Care is Now

The Future of Mental Health Care is Now

Mental health is part of the care and development of overall well-being that addresses the whole person. Our energetic, physiological, emotional and mental wellbeing together build up our sense of self and relationship with the world and others. Everything from what you eat, to how you play and relax becomes important in understanding your overall needs, to then meet them and establish wellness.

We are experiencing a convergence in the field of consciousness studies where a deeper understanding and applicability of research and technology are dovetailing to provide more targeted and effective mental health treatment. Expanded research in brain mapping and increased understanding of brain states and corresponding neuronal patterns is expanding our knowledge of mental wellness. We are also learning more about how the methods that we advocate for in mindfulness and general wellness practices play into the mental health spectrum.

Rewiring the neural network in conjunction with psychotherapy is one of the most effective tools today in helping clients who experience depression, anxiety, PTSD and other forms of trauma. Brain mapping and studies helping us understand the various activities that we engage in through electromagnetic modeling has helped create the clinical application of TMS, transcranial magnetic stimulation therapy. It targets and manipulates the brain’s rhythmic wave patterns and allows for specific changes in the electromagnetic structure leading to changes in one’s state of mind. The implications of neurofeedback therapy for mental health will continue to expand as we develop more sophisticated knowledge about the intricate and complex relationships that make up our (extended) bodies and our minds. 

There is great interest in the electrochemical make-up of our brains with the psychedelic therapeutic landscape changing so quickly. There is a mental health revolution underway, but we must remain cautious in maintaining research standards that do not blur the line with medicine’s primary oath, to do no harm. There will be research, which is thankfully beginning again. Possibly applying these breakthroughs within a clinical setting is soon underway with the technology to better understand our electrochemical pathways, such as more sophisticated knowledge of the serotonin neurotransmitter. Still we must approach the benefits of psychedelic psychotherapy carefully.

Ketamine acts upon the brain’s neural network through a different way pathway. Ketamine infusion therapy targets the glutamate neurotransmitter, which is an overarching neuronal network system. This electrochemical pathway in the brain is more encompassing and thus helps more globally in rewiring entrenched neural networks, while also producing a “downstream” effect on the serotonin neurotransmitter. Ketamine is not a psychotropic substance, it has dissociative properties that engage the default mode network (the DMN is an aspect of the mind-brain landscape that helps us map out our cognitive, meditative and subconscious activities). As opposed to psychotropic therapy, Ketamine infusion therapy is short-acting, making it more appropriate for outpatient clinical settings to incorporate more easily into a treatment plan. But the effects are longer-lasting due to the overarching reach that the glutamate pathway has in creating that change in perspective necessary to move out of an entrenched behavioral pattern. 

Any alternative treatment, whether it is TMS or Ketamine infusion therapy, is more efficacious when combined with other therapeutic modalities and lifestyle changes. Mental health falls on a spectrum that requires a multifaceted approach, just as mental wellness is a process that includes the whole person in all relational aspects. Using a variety of modalities to adjust your relational stance with the world and with others can lead to sustainable changes allowing you to live to your potential. 

Our dedicated staff at Ketamine Health Centers can help create a targeted treatment plan that addresses your unique challenges or that of a loved one. Contact us today to learn more about the cutting-edge treatments Ketamine Health Centers offers alongside traditional psychotherapy at 1-833-542-3040. We support your telehealth needs upon request and are happy to answer questions about insurance coverage. We look forward to working beside you. 

Managing Mental Illness with a Healthy State of Mind

Managing Mental Illness with a Healthy State of Mind

We welcome a different rhythm in this new year as we begin to create a sense of normalcy and establish new routines. While we continue to adjust how we live in order to contend with renewed waves of contagion and an endemic state of affairs, it is essential that we learn to navigate even the most difficult experiences with grace, compassion and resilience. We can find strength in the knowledge that creating a life of mental health is attainable while managing chronic stress or even mental illness. 

 Mental health is defined as a state of mind, a perspective if you will, that allows for a thriving and fulfilling development of oneself. It does not mean the absence of mental illness, crisis or challenges that we all face at some point in our path in life. Rather, mental health allows us to respond with compassion and create a sense of calm in the face of adversity, built on resilience to navigate the bumpy roads that inevitably emerge. 

The first step in developing a thriving state of mental health is to be kind to yourself, to allow yourself the space and the time to reflect on various aspects of life, recognizing without judgement that we all have shortcomings to address. But naturally, mental illness or diagnosed mental disorders make this process more challenging, and yet even more necessary. There are numerous resources in your community that can provide the necessary support to develop coping skills that will create a thriving state of mind. Just as there are many simple tools that you are most likely already aware of that will help establish robust mental health.

I will briefly touch on ten aspects that you can focus on more in-depth to develop resilience, which is the ground that will carry you forward during the most tumultuous moments you may encounter. Resilience is the key to establishing emotional strength and creating happiness for oneself even in the face of adversity. Remember that all things do pass, and so too will that perfect storm when you begin to thrive mentally, physically and emotionally.

1 – Shift your negative thinking patterns: We all fall into negative thinking patterns such as all-or-nothing statements or jumping to conclusions assuming the worst. The key is to become aware of these emotional pitfalls and to label them. This allows for non-judgmental shifts in how we think so that we can change how we feel.

2 – Engage positive emotions: Hobbies and activities that bring us joy can generate positive emotions that engage our energetic and neurological states of wellbeing. We can also create positive associations by listening to music, sitting in a natural setting or looking at images or photographs that evoke joy. When we feel sad or anxious, it is best to re-center with a pleasurable connection to someone or something.

3 – Develop relaxation coping skills: Meditation and breathing techniques help us slow down and create the necessary space to listen to our bodies. The more practiced we become, the less reactive we respond in moments of stress. Relaxation techniques are the key to building resilience. There are so many meditation methods available to us, some are passive, some involve movement. Explore different meditation and breathing techniques to discover what resonates with you.

4 – Create moments of reflective thinking: When we begin to develop the skills to calm our mind and body, we create the stillness necessary to listen to our intuition. Journaling is one way to look at our thoughts and actions without judgement. Within this reflective space we can begin to adjust subtle changes in how we approach ourselves and others. The process of reflection, and then adjusting, allows us to become our better self. 

5 – Strengthen your community connections: We are not an island unto ourselves. We are social beings and we need the connections that relationships afford us. Altruistic behavior, helping others, is the cornerstone to creating happiness within. The act of connecting with other individuals, especially those who move us into a space of growth. In particular, when we move out of our comfort zone we begin to expand our notion of caring. It can even be as simple as smiling at those you pass you, spreading your love. 

6 – Create a sense of purpose: An important factor in living a fulfilling life is to create a sense of purpose. For some, talents help move us in that direction. However, most of us won’t simply discover it, we need to create our purpose in life. We create it by deciphering what moves us, what brings us joy, what generates that energetic recharge that allows us to thrive. Sharing our passions helps build that web of community.

7 – Find your happy place: Sometimes the choices we make in our relationships or career paths increase our level of stress, despite the love we share or the satisfaction we receive. Life is never easy nor always pleasant. Recharging our spirit and energetic connections to the world is essential to staying balanced and maintaining strong mental health. Explore the myriad activities and spaces available to you to create those necessary moments of recharge at an energetic, mental, physical, emotional and spiritual level. Nature and water sources can provide profound renewal and happiness.

8 – Establish a course of action: Physical health is a primary source of energy renewal necessary to develop a thriving state of mind. Stay active, stay engaged. The physical and energetic strengths we develop translate into mental and emotional benefits. Ask a friend to join you or connect with a community member action on your own.

9 – Help others less fortunate: Extending your helping hand to another individual is a powerful way to create community and find that we can be a source of light for someone, even when we feel less than brilliant. Helping others less fortunate than ourselves allows us to shift our perspective and feel gratitude despite the pain of adversity and tragedy.

10 – Communicate with a mental health professional: Reach out to a trained professional who can provide more in-depth guidance and targeted techniques to face mental health challenges. Wellness practices are essential for proper self-care and building resilience. However, some individuals will need professional support in order to establish that thriving mental health. 

Ketamine Health Centers offers highly effective alternative therapeutic methods to address some of the most challenging mental health conditions, such as suicide ideation, treatment resistant depression and chronic pain. Our goal is to help you establish mental health while navigating the added stressors of mental illness or chronic pain. Contact us today to learn how we can be of service to you and your family. Wishing you a thriving year ahead!