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Holistic Pathways Pave the Way for Mental Health

Holistic Pathways Pave the Way for Mental Health

Mental health news made the “front pages” recently, spurred on by a study claiming to debunk the ‘serotonin theory of depression. An important, although misleading conversation then took shape, specifically around the treatment of depression, which afflicts about 5% of the adult population worldwide. We want to sharpen the focus of this important conversation by pinpointing an aspect of current research on cutting-edge treatments that will help curb the dramatic increase in mood disorders, such as depression if properly integrated into a holistic model of mental well-being. 

The authors of the study (which was first published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry and then made widely available as a popular review on nature.com) analyzed decades of research on the role of serotonin in depression and determined there was no causal connection between the two. News and media outlets quickly circulated the headline and ultimately helped stir conversation surrounding the complex, multifactorial nature of depression, as many experts weighed in. 

Reactions from the media, and many individuals I spoke with after the headlines spread across seemingly every outlet – together with the cascading critiques – reveal that while most experts in the field of mental health do not prescribe a singular ‘chemical imbalance theory of mood disorders, a large segment of the general public tends to believe this account. Most likely given the marketing strategy at the turn of the century used to promote SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) as a magic-bullet cure for depression. The study says more about our societal inclination to rely on quick fixes than it helps to bring clarity to the complexities of mood disorders. As we well know, there is no singular source for depression given the dynamic interplay of the biopsychosocial factors that can lead to it, not to mention the genetic features of major depressive disorder that potentially remain latent until triggered by particular life events. 

Several individuals sent me messages and Instagram shares referencing different aspects of the ongoing conversation surrounding the serotonin theory of depression. A few colleagues, some of whom take these prescribed antidepressants, asked for my opinion, not before denouncing the use of SSRIs in some cases. My initial reaction mirrored that of many experts in the field raising the strongest critique, that the treatment of depression requires a multifaceted approach to the whole person, the biopsychosocial layers of being (I include the bioenergetic field that connects us to the world’s most intimately). Sadly, there have been short-sighted psychiatrists, especially a generation ago, taking a shortcut to mental health by focusing primarily on the neurological pathways of pathology, motivated by the hope of finding a targeted approach to mental health treatment, but at times in a vacuum of care. Yet, neither can we sidestep the fact that these medications work in many cases. Thankfully, integrative health falls within the larger nexus of mental health today compared to twenty years ago, but it has always been the cornerstone of psychodynamic theories and body-centered therapies. An article critical of the review points to this view above by rejecting the authors’ singular focus on serotonin.

Depression requires an integrative approach to health, wellness, and worldview that often requires lifestyle changes in order to align one’s take on life with how one lives out that life. A pill cannot do all of that for us, however, SSRIs work for a portion of the population for a reason. This does not negate the fact that most individuals require several tools and psychodynamic treatment methods (and spiritual alignment through traditions, fellowship with others, and direct connection with the natural environment) to address both the symptoms and the causes of mood disorders. Ultimately, SSRIs are prescribed to help an individual artificially induce what lifestyle changes (through movement) can often help establish on their own when undertaken with sufficient support addressing all layers of being. There are, of course, many instances when additional support is required. Medication for mood disorders is an important tool (SSRIs are only one type of antidepressant medication), hopefully, a temporary one, to help create kinetic energy that provides the internal motivation to move and grow and explore one’s environment with a sense of purpose. These medications can be efficacious as tools to help one move past the inertia that keeps one stuck. But they do not work, even in tandem with other treatment methods, for some individuals diagnosed with “treatment-resistant” depression. 

Most antidepressant medications were designed decades ago. Unfortunately, in arguing that a chemical imbalance of serotonin levels is not proven to play a causal role in depression, the review somewhat undermines the growing scientific evidence that does point to the role that neurotransmitters such as serotonin and dopamine have in our mood regulation. Current knowledge of the neurophysiology of our brain and the relational structure of our minds and bodies to our environment in all its layered complexity is more sophisticated. Today’s technology, and more so with what’s coming online in the future, allow for more targeted approaches to mental health than ever before, paving future pathways to mental wellness.

By pinpointing more concretely the interrelated nature of our physiology and the importance of a dynamical approach to treatment for holistic mental health, we are poised to create a patient-tailored treatment for specific mental health disorders. Research groups directed by anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, for example, look at ways to create disorder-specific treatments as we expand research into neuroimaging; including a study using transcranial ultrasound (TUS) to alleviate chronic pain. Another review of a study on Ketamine infusion therapy provides promising research on the causal connection between Ketamine (which directly targets the overarching glutamate neurotransmitter) and the monoamine neurotransmitter serotonin. The study shows Ketamine directly increases the number of serotonin 1B receptors, possibly a mechanism to explain its fast-acting results in individuals diagnosed with treatment-resistant depression. The review provides a research path forward it seems, by raising the need to better understand the intricate dynamics and role of neurotransmitters in the regulation of mood and motivation, and the overarching interplay between the excitatory Glutamate and inhibitory GABA neurotransmitters that constrain the neuropathways, of which serotonin is a “downstream” component. More importantly, though, we will continue to learn how to manipulate our various systems through a variety of modalities, and different ways of bringing into kinetic balance the layers of our whole self, ultimately creating the epigenetic changes that can lead to sustained wellbeing. 

The foundational principles that guide Ketamine Health Centers are that of a holistic approach to wellness that strengthens overall well-being. We provide alternative therapies such as Ketamine infusion therapyTMS treatment, and the still important component of talk therapy (with Ketamine assisted psychotherapy) to treat mood disorders. We emphasize the wellness spectrum as a preventative scope of mental health, precisely because of the many sources of mental illness that may be more stress related or connected to life events. However, the holistic and integrative approach to mental health is also a critical aspect of mental disorder treatment to address the needs of the whole self as a supportive ground for deeper therapeutic work. Ketamine Health Centers will guide you in creating your path to wellness.

Summer Vibes: Stay Cool Under Pressure

Summer Vibes: Stay Cool Under Pressure

Maybe it’s the vitamin D boost or the energy you get from being near a source of water that rejuvenates and refreshes. Whatever the combination, the summer vibes can generate a healing space. Summer music with its upbeat groove has a way of moving us into a more easy-going state of mind. These days there is great relief in being outdoors, as we savor our time with others in open spaces where we can feel safe and comfortable (even if a little toasty with these heat wave temperatures!). Yet, the extremes we experience at the height of summer also remind us that we must find ways to cool down. We all need to find outdoor spaces for quiet and calm, where the stillness of mind and body can bring the natural environment to life in vibrant and healing ways. 

I will assert that most of us sense the need to focus on healing at many levels. In May, a month designated to focus on mental wellness and ways to heal ourselves and our communities, our nation faced another school massacre with the ensuing and tragic consequences that force us to make hard choices. Our health concerns, along with climate imbalance and a multitude of social stressors that we are contending with will continue to put undue pressure on all of us well into the year. So, perhaps it is best to take this time to settle ourselves into stillness and greater self-reflection through breathwork, mindfulness practices, and moments of release to help us heal at our core and stay positive despite the heaviness.

In a sense, we must cool our thoughts and do our best to focus on self-care, so that we can respond to all individuals that shape our day with respect and grace, and when we find it necessary, simply move along with our day without losing our cool. Because we all have our days, and sometimes we need grace from others, but usually it’s nothing that a friendly smile from a stranger or a hug from a loved one can’t help resolve, along with exercise and a little evening fun. Take advantage of the extra hours of sunlight and stretch your relaxation time outdoors – take in the sunset; or walk off a hearty meal of fresh food and veggies, all made easier in the summer with nature’s abundance. Find a lake, a pool, and a beach to recharge.

We must be intentional about keeping it cool because summer is h-o-t. And that’s not all bad! Music and dance are almost synonymous with summer vibes. And rightly so. Some of the most important ways to keep up our energetic, physiological, and psychological state of well-being are through movement, and in particular through the power of music on the mind. Whether you feel moved by your favorite song, or you find your rhythm in sports or other types of exercise, do what feels good to you. And do it each day. Get in 15-30 minutes of outdoor cardio early in the morning before the summer heat sets in. Leave the evening hours for more leisure activities like a neighborhood stroll or a lazy bike ride through a nearby greenway. Chair yoga (or seated stretching) and chair dancing provide alternative options for engaging one’s body.

Include time at the start of your day (or cap off the night) with active reflection, stating or writing down two things you are grateful for. At that moment, take in a deep breath and let that positive reflection fill your whole being. Then exhale that breath, completely emptying your lungs, and inhale once again a full, deep breath. Feel the gift of air in your lungs and the warmth, the fuel, that gratitude provides the soul. This calming practice creates a space to organize your thoughts around setting intentions for the day, which helps engage the mind in ways that move you to accomplish your goals. 

Journaling, simply writing out your thoughts and emotions, is quite helpful in curbing negative thinking by revealing your patterns of thought. It is a direct way to relieve stress and let go of those harmful thoughts that may weigh you down. By writing them out, you release them from your mind’s grasp and give yourself permission to name them or claim them, making it easier to let it go so that it lets go of you. Journaling provides a gentle, yet powerful, way to work through grief and trauma, while helping to strengthen memory and cognitive abilities, increase affect and boost mood especially when it involves incorporating positive thinking, and so many more positive effects of sorting out one’s thoughts on paper. 

There are many more modalities and activities that can help you find that cool groove that you need this summer to feel your best. Still, there are also many traumatic events that too many minds and bodies are contending with, so many individuals experiencing trauma directly. Many more are affected each day by the growing mental health crisis and the inability of mental health care providers to keep up with increased need and awareness.

Thankfully, there are alternative methods that effectively and more quickly help treat mental health challenges such as PTSD, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, etc., and can help address the need for more targeted and accessible care. Whether you find yourself facing challenges, or someone you know needs the help of a mental health professional, Ketamine Health Centers is here to provide support and guidance to achieve mental wellness. Contact us today to learn more about the various treatment options available to alleviate post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and a wide range of conditions. We are here for you.

 

Supporting your Post-Infusion Care to Maximize Results

Supporting your Post-Infusion Care to Maximize Results

At Ketamine Health Centers, we ensure a successful and comfortable experience at our clinics. Once you leave our clinic, there are elements of post-infusion care that are important to keep in mind to help maximize the results.

To start, a friend or family member who can support your post-infusion experience is most beneficial. You will get more support from a loved one who is able to able to help you create a curated and safe space for you to make what you need out of your infusion experience. 

There are the procedural and healing aspects of post-infusion care that a third person can help with that would allow you to focus more on your experience. Listening to the after-care instructions from the nurse may not be entirely possible while still processing your emotions and experience after a session. You may be overtaken by your thoughts, or still in a dreamy state of mind, and not fully able to take in all the details of post-infusion care. A friend can help be your eyes and ears immediately following your session by listening to the post-care instructions that will be reviewed with you. And that friend or family member can help once again review those instructions with you once home.

As a caretaker, you can help ensure the safety of your loved one by offering them safe transportation back home and helping them settle in comfortably. Additionally, we stress the importance of arranging transportation for a safe way home with a friend or family member. 

A confidant is important to have during the post-infusion period. You may be tempted to share your experience with just about anyone who will listen! It is important though to keep in mind that many of your experiences will be difficult to capture in words. Not everyone will understand your perspective or be able to provide you the space of non-judgement that is especially important to help you process the insights that emerge immediately following (and days after) your session. Being selective of who you share with means you are less likely to try to fit your experience into neat perceptual frameworks to help someone else understand what you are trying to convey. You must first take the time to understand for yourself what your experience is trying to convey to you.

As a caretaker, you can best support someone going through infusion therapy by holding a non-judgmental space for that person to feel invited to share in a way that speaks to them. Try to provide feedback that helps the individual explore their experience for the messages that resonate for them, rather than trying to understand what they are speaking of in any concrete terms for your own understanding. Your curiosity may not be helpful at this stage, though it is important to show your interest during the post-infusion, it is much more important for you to share compassion through attentive listening. Remaining quietly present is a powerful gesture of support by simply holding a space for them to fill as they see fit. 

Ketamine Health Centers provides a cutting-edge therapeutic model to address the mental health crisis that is on the rise. By combining ketamine infusion therapy with a variety of alternative treatments such as SGB treatment or TMS therapy we can target specific mental health challenges and tailor a treatment plan that addresses your needs. Contact us today at 1-833-542-3040 to learn more about the various therapies and treatments available throughout Florida and Mexico City.

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.

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