Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy in Mental Health

Therapeutic Prospects and Safety at Noosa Confidential

Key Takeaways

  1. Noosa Confidential offers Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy for treating depression, suicidality, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder for suitable patients. The medicine promptly acts and provides immediate relief from depressive and suicidal symptoms. When combined with psychotherapy, it also increases a patient’s capacity for the neurotransmitter regulation and neuroplasticity, supporting the development and reinforcement of new neural pathways.

  2. Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic drug, similar in structure to PCP but used clinically for its potent analgesic and antidepressant effects. It influences certain brain parts and improves mood, cognition and pain management.

  3. Ketamine offers rapid symptom relief and can curtail distressful thoughts in hours. However, there is a risk of addiction, especially with recreational misuse, and side effects may include hallucinations, increased heart rate, anxiety, and, with chronic use, cognitive decline and bladder problems.

  4. At Noosa Confidential, we prioritize patient safety by constantly monitoring and adopting a holistic approach to well-being, balancing innovative treatments with intentional living while carefully managing the immense therapeutic potential of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy.

Introduction to Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy and Its Clinical Application

Ketamine as a medicine was originally developed as an anaesthetic, has been used for over half a century. It is a dissociative medicine known for inducing a trance-like state while relieving pain. Its clinical application has recently expanded beyond anaesthesia, leading to groundbreaking results, especially in the mental health sphere. Ketamine, as a novel antidepressant, normalizes brain connectivity, enhances neural plasticity, and interrupts habitual patterns of brain activity and negative thought patterns. However, while shown to be immediately effective in reducing negative symptoms, ketamine efficacy has shown to be improved through the addition of targeted psychotherapy.

At Noosa Confidential, Australia's leading residential retreat, our commitment to using evidence-based treatments extends to researching and implementing the latest therapeutic breakthroughs, including Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy. Our clinical team have been working with the appropriate registration and training bodies to enable us to offer treatment to our clients for resistant depression and some chronic pain cases. As per the July 1, 2023 allowances, treatment frequency and structure are established on a case by case basis and in alignment with all Noosa Confidential protocols. We only offer this option as part of a whole solution, working with trained psychologists and medical practitioners to support and facilitate an upgrading of understanding and implementation of difference when many other modalities have not brought about change.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a compound with a structure and mode of action similar to phencyclidine (PCP), a substance more infamously known as "angel dust." Both of these medicines are classified as dissociative anaesthetics. While PCP gained notoriety for its association with violent behaviours and strong analgesic effects, Ketamine's narrative has evolved.

How does Ketamine work?

Ketamine is a powerful molecule that influences the brain in multiple ways. It primarily works by blocking NMDA receptors, a type of glutamate receptor, disrupting normal neurotransmission and causing dissociative effects. This is crucial for its pain management effects as NMDA receptors are involved in the transmission of pain signals. This action triggers a series of events, leading to an increase in glutamate release, activation of AMPA receptors, and enhanced release of BDNF, a protein crucial for neuron health. This ultimately improves synaptic connectivity, neural network health, mood, cognition, and stress resilience. Additionally, Ketamine's temporary interaction with the opioid system, which is also involved in pain perception, and modulation of neurotransmitters like serotonin and dopamine contribute to its broad impact on behavior, emotions, and pain management.

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy: Modern Clinical Applications at Noosa Confidential

In today's clinical setting, Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy has shown promise in research settings for those with depression, suicidality, Borderline Personality Disorder, and PTSD, while research is still in it’s early stages for other conditions. One of its remarkable abilities is to boost BDNF, fuelling immediate and lasting antidepressant effects. Its interaction with the opioid receptor system further accentuates its mood-enhancing capabilities. Instead of just targeting the serotonin and norepinephrine pathways, like many antidepressants, Ketamine focuses on the glutamatergic system, introducing an innovative mechanism to combat these disorders. Controlled studies reveal that the medicine offers swift symptom relief compared to other antidepressants, when precisely dosed in a clinical environment, and sets the conditions for effective intensive psychotherapy when working within certain timeframes.

Addiction Potential and Side Effects

The Addiction Aspect of Ketamine

Ketamine, despite its clinical benefits, carries an inherent risk of addiction, particularly when misused recreationally or outside its intended therapeutic boundaries. The road to addiction can manifest in various ways: building a tolerance, significant spending to procure the drug, or even continued consumption despite acknowledging its detrimental impact. It's essential to draw a clear line between Ketamine's supervised therapeutic use, which offers genuine healing prospects when paired with psychotherapy, and its recreational misuse, which leads down a perilous route fraught with health concerns.

Understanding the broader picture of Ketamine's impact involves not just acknowledging its addictive potential but also being aware of the array of side effects it might present.

Clinical and Recreational Side Effects of Ketamine:

Short-Term Effects: Under clinical supervision during the ketamine dosing sessions side effects may include:

  • Dissociative Symptoms: Patients might feel disconnected from their environment or themselves, creating an illusionary feeling.

  • Hallucinations & Distortions: Some experience visual or auditory hallucinations, varying from simple patterns to complex scenes. Changes in auditory perceptions or the sensation of time distortion have been noted.

  • Digestive Discomfort: Nausea or vomiting is possible, though it can often be managed with anti-nausea medications.

  • Cardiovascular Responses: A temporary blood pressure and heart rate spike may occur.

  • Anxiety Responses: The drug's altered state can sometimes lead to heightened anxiety or panic in specific individuals.

Long-Term Effects: Continuous and excessive ketamine use brings its own set of challenges:

  • Bladder Concerns: Chronic use, especially at high doses, can cause bladder problems, such as pain or increased urination frequency. In severe cases, this can result in bloody urine, indicative of ketamine-induced cystitis.

  • Cognitive Decline: There are indications that regular high doses might impair cognitive abilities, affecting memory, focus, and clarity.

  • Tolerance Build-up: Some might require higher doses over time to achieve the same therapeutic results.

  • Misuse Vulnerability: While Ketamine's potential for addiction is considered lower than some other substances, it still poses a risk, particularly for individuals with past substance abuse issues.

The therapeutic promise of Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy is undeniably vast, but it's paramount to balance its benefits against the associated risks. An in-depth awareness of these side effects and meticulous supervision by medical professionals ensures its practical and safe application. At Noosa Confidential, patient safety remains our priority, facilitated by constant monitoring and round-the-clock on-site support.


Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy, using a medication that was initially considered only an anaesthetic, has emerged as a groundbreaking treatment option for suitable patients in mental health. This evidence-based approach has revitalized treatments for depression, PTSD, and even suicidality. However, it's crucial to approach its use with enthusiasm and caution, given its potential for addiction and side effects. At Noosa Confidential, we prioritize evidence-based treatments, ensuring our guests benefit from the latest advancements while receiving the utmost care and supervision. Our commitment goes beyond just medications; it's about a holistic approach to well-being. While Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy offers an exciting avenue to improving mental health, true healing and rejuvenation come from a marriage of innovative treatments and intentional living. Noosa Confidential awaits if you or your loved ones seek a sanctuary that bridges cutting-edge therapies with comprehensive and collaborative care. Together, let's journey towards a brighter, more resilient future – Contact us now.