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How Ketamine Infusion Therapy Can Benefit Your Healing Journey

How Ketamine Infusion Therapy Can Benefit Your Healing Journey
By stella
19th Jul 2022

The landscape of mental healthcare treatment is vast. Pharmaceutical drugs, the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), yoga, talk therapy…. The list goes on. 

The idea of researching available treatments can be daunting. And deciding where to start your healing journey – or what to add to it – takes time and serious consideration. That’s where Stella comes in. 

In this article, we explain what Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella is, which conditions it can treat, and how it can fit into your healing journey. 

The History of Ketamine 

How It Started

In 1966, researchers published the first study about using ketamine as an anesthetic, noting that it provides “excellent analgesia” (or inability to feel pain). By 1970, the FDA approved the use of ketamine as an anesthetic. And in 1985, the World Health Organization added ketamine to its Essentials Medicines list. 

Researchers Find a New Use For Ketamine

In the early 1990s, researchers at Yale noted that when treated with pediatric anesthetic ketamine, chronically depressed patients experience “almost immediate – if transitory – relief from [their] symptoms.” This observation sparked researchers’ curiosity about ketamine’s potential to help the tens of millions of people who struggle with depression and other mental health conditions, like anxiety and PTSD. 

In a 2015 study published in the American Journal of Psychology, researchers celebrated ketamine as “one of the most important breakthroughs in antidepressant treatment in decades.” 

Multiple randomized clinical studies find that ketamine infusions can effectively treat major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression with a success rate as high as 80%. Patients with suicidal thoughts respond particularly well to ketamine – over 80% report that their suicidal thoughts stop completely after the first infusion. 

How Ketamine Infusion Therapy Works 

Ketamine can enter the body in a few ways: intravenously, intramuscularly, intranasally, sublingually (under the tongue), or orally (by mouth). Stella only administers ketamine intravenously, which is the most common method. 

The amount of ketamine used in Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella is much lower than what anesthesiologists administer before surgery. 

How Does Ketamine Affect the Brain? 

Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist that interacts with some of the brain’s neurotransmitters. When ketamine binds to those receptors, it increases the amount of glutamate between neurons. Glutamate then activates connections in the AMPA receptor. When NMDA receptors are blocked and AMPA receptors are activated, synaptogenesis occurs. Synaptogenesis is the process of neurons communicating with each other along new pathways, which can affect mood, thought patterns, and cognition. 

Ketamine causes nerve growth throughout the brain which can lead to long-lasting symptom improvement, even after the drug is no longer in your system.

What Is the Infusion Session Like? 

At the beginning, you might not notice any changes. As the session progresses, you may feel lighter or like you’re floating. Some patients describe this sensation as “a weight being lifted” off their shoulders. Other patients experience a dream-like state or calmness. It’s also possible to have visions of colors and shapes. These types of out-of-body experiences are why ketamine is sometimes categorized as a psychedelic drug. 

Generally, 15 minutes after completing the infusion, patients start to regain their senses and their thinking returns to normal. 

How Long Does It Last? 

The positive effects of a single ketamine infusion can last for up to two weeks. After a series of six infusions, many Stella patients are symptom-free for several months or longer. 

The Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy

It’s Fast-Acting 

Ketamine caused a paradigm shift in the treatment of major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression. Many pharmaceutical drugs take weeks to work – if they work at all – whereas ketamine can work within hours of the first infusion. For some patients, it takes multiple infusions to experience relief. In either case, Ketamine Infusion Therapy often yields a successful result before traditional treatments – think pharmaceutical drugs or talk therapy – do. 

This is incredibly encouraging because when someone is struggling with depression, they may benefit from a treatment with a fast positive response. For this reason, ketamine can be an extremely valuable tool in preventing suicide and alleviating major depressive disorder. 

It’s Safe 

Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella is administered by highly-trained medical personnel who work under the direction of a Board Certified physician. They deliver the ketamine intravenously very slowly over 45 minutes. During the session, medical personnel will closely monitor your vital signs and adjust the dose as necessary. They are also prepared to manage unpleasant side effects like nausea. 

There Are Minimal Side Effects  

Side effects of Ketamine Infusion Therapy include mild drowsiness, nausea, and increased blood pressure, and they usually only last an hour or two. 

Less common side effects include vivid dreams and agitation. These can be controlled by adjusting the dose during the infusion session. 

There is no evidence that ketamine is habit-forming or addictive when administered intravenously at low doses and frequencies to treat depression. In fact, research suggests that ketamine can help people overcome addictions. 

Please note that a history of substance-use issues will not exclude you from participating in Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella. However, it is important to disclose this information to our Care Team before treatment. 

It’s Customized To You

Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella includes six infusion sessions. To maximize the positive effects of treatment, patients typically space their infusions out over a two-to three-week period. 

The total number of infusions and need for maintenance infusions varies from person to person. Stella’s Care Team will work with you to create a plan that’s practical and most likely to yield a successful result. 

Most of Stella’s treatment locations let you bring your own music so you can set the tone of your infusion sessions. Many locations also allow a family member or friend to accompany you so you feel comfortable and supported during treatment.

Adding Ketamine Infusion Therapy To Your Existing Care Plan

To help you achieve the best possible outcome, Stella combines cutting-edge biological and psychological interventions. 

Our team understands that there are many paths to healing. Ketamine Infusion Therapy can compliment the work you’re already doing and it’s a great first step. 

The Stellate Ganglion Block 

Treatment by Stella is based on the symptoms that you self-report in our short quiz. Our quiz gauges the post-traumatic stress (PTS) and/ or depressive symptoms you may be experiencing. Our Care Team will determine if you might benefit from the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), Ketamine Infusion Therapy, or a combination of the two. 

People with moderate PTS and moderate depressive symptoms may be good candidates for both SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy. Our Care Team is prepared to discuss your treatment options with you and will provide the information you need to make an informed decision. 

A month and a half after one of our patients had SGB and five ketamine infusions, they said that they felt like they got their life back: 

“These treatments allowed me to see that my trauma and the abuses were nothing but mere memories. Those fleeting things. Mere floaties, as opposed to hard truths about life and myself. I am able to connect to myself in a way that is incredibly healing! I am alive and healing at incredible speed!”

Other Therapies and Treatments

Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella can accelerate the impact of other therapies and treatments, such as talk therapy, pharmaceutical drugs, transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) and more. Many of our patients find that after their infusion sessions they can more easily incorporate takeaways from therapy because they are less focused on their symptoms. 

One of our patients reflected on the progress they made after Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella: 

“I got six infusions in seven days. The infusions had a huge impact on my trauma and the way my brain was holding on to the moments in my past. The traumatic events were as old as 30 years. The infusions made me feel as if I was the only thing that exists on earth, which is extremely peaceful. My rumination on past events went away, and I was extremely calm and happy. During some of the infusions I felt as if I was dying. The feeling of dying helped me kill the pain that was inside, rather than me wanting to commit suicide. I battled with suicidal ideations for over 30 years with over 20 years of psychological therapy. I made more progress during one infusion than I had in 20 years of therapy and 90 days in inpatient rehabilitation. Ketamine infusions would have given me my childhood and adulthood back, rather than living with a horror film inside of me.”

What Does Ketamine Infusion Therapy Cost? 

Our package of six ketamine infusions starts at $3,899. Please note that the price of Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella varies by location.

Although ketamine can be legally prescribed and administered to treat mental health conditions like depression, anxiety, or PTSD, ketamine infusions are not currently covered by healthcare insurance companies for this use. Today, ketamine is only covered by insurance as an anesthetic. 

To help make Ketamine Infusion Therapy accessible, Stella accepts payment through HSA and FSA accounts. We also offer two financing options: a 24-month plan through CareCredit and an in-house plan for those who qualify. 

If you want to learn why Ketamine Infusion Therapy isn’t covered by insurance and how we set our prices, read Stella’s Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Michael Gershenzon’s article on Cost, Care, and the Need for Transparency. 

Connect With Stella’s Care Team 

Stella has helped thousands of people find lasting relief from symptoms related to depression, anxiety, PTSD, and stress. To determine if you’re a good fit for Treatment by Stella, start by taking our brief quiz. You can also reach our Care Team at 312-448-6502 or care@stellacenter.com.

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3 Advantages of SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy

3 Advantages of SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy
By stella
13th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

At Stella, we continue to innovate in trauma treatments like our lives depend on it – because they do.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, it was estimated that 6% of the U.S. adult population would struggle with symptoms following trauma exposure at some point in their lives, with 15 million suffering from trauma symptoms each year.1 At Stella, we believe the additional burden of psychological trauma beginning in 2020 is hard to calculate. 

In addition to this unprecedented health crisis, other factors –  a fight against systemic racism, intense political division, growing concerns about climate change, and economic uncertainty – created additional traumas and highly stressful experiences, which we know can cause PTSD (which Stella refers to as PTSI), anxiety, and depression.

Those seeking relief from trauma symptoms, anxiety, and depression deserve cutting-edge care. We believe in treatment plans that are practical, informed by modern neuroscience, and, most of all, effective.

To help the people we treat achieve the best possible outcomes, we listen to each individual’s needs and collaborate with their support system of skilled mental health care providers, attentive doctors, empathetic healers, and compassionate family and friends. 

Treatment by Stella is just one aspect of the healing journey. We believe that when our biological interventions – like the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) and ketamine infusion therapy – are paired with psychological interventions, the result can be life-changing. This is the new model of trauma treatment. And it’s what people in need of relief deserve. 

Stella is ushering in breakthrough treatments for trauma symptoms, anxiety, and depression. Our treatments are fast, effective, and research-backed. If you’re considering SGB or ketamine infusion therapy by Stella, here are some advantages.

1. Breaking Down The Barriers To Seek Treatment

One of the primary barriers to seeking trauma treatment is overcoming its stigma. Stigma is often used in mental health conversations;  we feel it is important to define it for the purposes of this article.

stigma | ˈstiɡmə

a mark of disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person

Shame, disgrace, and dishonor also capture the idea of the stigma around mental health. 

The truth is that it’s ok to need help and to ask for it. This is why Stella exists. We’re relentlessly committed to the care of those experiencing trauma symptoms. We’ll listen to you to understand what you’re going through and learn how we may be able to help. We’ll never judge or make assumptions about you or your experiences.

So why is there a stigma associated with trauma, anxiety, and depression? Historically, experiencing these conditions – let alone seeking relief from them – was considered taboo. For this reason, we may have avoided or waited to seek treatment because we were worried about being treated differently or unfairly. 

Stigma is driven by a lack of information, myths, and fear. Misrepresentations of people diagnosed with trauma symptoms, anxiety, and depression add fuel to the fire. 

In addition to stigma, we may avoid seeking treatment because we think that it requires us to relive their trauma. At Stella, we’ll never ask about personal trauma histories. 

To determine who may be a good candidate for treatment, we need to know which symptoms are being experienced to understand the severity, and we’ll complete a health review. We can collect this information through online forms or over the phone. This helps us confirm that SGB and/or ketamine infusion therapy is right for each unique individual.

2. SGB and Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella Are Effective 

Advances in neurobiological models of PTSD (which Stella refers to as PTSI) allow Stella to deploy effective treatments. We know that the greatest possible relief occurs when biological and psychological treatments are used together strategically. 

The American Journal of Psychology called ketamine infusion therapy “one of the most important breakthroughs in antidepressant treatment in decades.”2 Ketamine infusion therapy caused a paradigm shift in the treatment of major depressive disorder and treatment-resistant depression because it can decrease symptoms within hours instead of weeks or months. This finding is incredibly encouraging because when we’re struggling with depression, we might not be able to wait for relief. 

Research about SGB is equally compelling. Studies consistently indicate that it can reduce symptoms following trauma by 50% and that it’s particularly helpful in improving symptoms of irritability, surges of anger, difficulty concentrating, and trouble falling or staying asleep.3

When we are no longer overwhelmed by symptoms, we are much more willing and able to incorporate new learnings from therapy into our daily lives. We may also discuss topics that before would have been too overwhelming. 

More than 83% of people who receive SGB by Stella experience relief from symptoms of trauma.4

3. Stella Customizes Your Treatment Plan

Stella will meet your needs before, during, and after treatment. 

Before Treatment

Our Patient Care Team will review symptoms and medical history to determine who is a good candidate for treatment. From there, we will customize a treatment plan. Depending on the symptoms, they may recommend SGB, ketamine infusion therapy, or both. 

On Treatment Day

Stella is committed to the principle of trauma-informed care with the goal of making the people in our care feel safe. We take common triggers and preferences into account so others don’t have to. 

After Treatment 

Stella provides the people we work with concierge-level access to a network of mental healthcare professionals which allows for further healing after SGB and/or ketamine infusion therapy. 

Our Patient Care Team will check in to measure symptoms and ensure we are providing proper follow care and resource.

After being treated by Stella, some schedule a follow-up SGB or additional ketamine infusion therapy sessions. Our Patient Care Team will thoroughly explain all options so an informed decision can be made. 

More on Ketamine Infusion Therapy by Stella 

Ketamine infusion therapy by Stella is administered by trained personnel under the direction of a Board Certified Doctor who carefully monitors dosing and makes real-time adjustments as needed. Unlike other ketamine providers, we do not ask those in our care to participate in talk therapy during the infusion session. 

Most treatment locations allow people to bring their own music and a family member or friend. This allows them to set the tone of their infusion session. 

More on SGB by Stella 

In our article How the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) Can Augment Treatment Plans we explain what SGB is, highlight its benefits, and discuss how it works in combination with therapy and/or medications. 

Ready To Kickstart Lasting Relief? 

A consultation could change everything. Contact our Patient Care Team directly by calling 1-866-497-9248 or emailing care@stellacenter.com

  1. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp 
  2. Newport, D. J., Carpenter, L. L., McDonald, W. M., Potash, J. B., Tohen, M., Nemeroff, C. B., & APA Council of Research Task Force on Novel Biomarkers and Treatments. (2015). Ketamine and other NMDA antagonists: early clinical trials and possible mechanisms in depression. American Journal of Psychiatry, 172(10), 950-966. Available from: https://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.15040465#B1 
  3. James H. Lynch. Stellate ganglion block treats posttraumatic stress: An example of precision mental health. 28 August 2020. From https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/brb3.1807
  4. Lipov, E., Ritchie, E.C. A Review of the Use of Stellate Ganglion Block in the Treatment of PTSD. Curr Psychiatry Rep 17, 63 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11920-015-0599-4. Available from: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s11920-015-0599-4; Navaie, M., Keefe, M.S., Hickey, A.H., Mclay, R.N., Ritchie, E.C., & Abdi, S. (2014). Use of stellate ganglion block for refractory post-traumatic stress disorder: A review of published cases. Journal of Anesthesia and Clinical Research, 5(4), [1000403]. https://doi.org/10.4172/2155-6148.1000403
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A New Model For Care

A New Model For Care
By stella
13th Feb 2022

The following article refers to PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), whereas at Stella, we use the term PTSI (Post-Traumatic Stress Injury). We encourage you to adopt this language to break the stigma against Post-Traumatic Stress.  Read more about the shift from PTSD to PSTI here.

Connect Trauma Survivors With the Most Innovative and Effective Treatments

Are you searching for relief from symptoms of PTSD and feeling stuck? You’re not alone. While PTSD has been referred to as a disorder, many claim it’s an injury. Stella and others have suggested a new term – Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PSTI) – in place of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)1.

The traditional approach to treatment for people who have experienced trauma is a combination of trauma-focused psychotherapy and symptom-focused medications. While this is effective for some, it does not work for everyone. The good news is that there are additional options.

This article explores what it’s like to pursue traditional options compared to how Stella connects those experiencing trauma symptoms with the most innovative and effective treatments. 

Life After Trauma

Did you know that sixty percent of men and fifty percent of women experience trauma at least once in their lives?2 Some experience a trauma once, and others experience multiple traumas over the course of a lifetime. There are many different types of trauma, from natural disasters to sports injury to combat to childhood abuse.

Research suggests that only 2-11% of those experiencing trauma symptoms are actually diagnosed.3 And no two experiences are exactly the same. When we experience symptoms of trauma, we can feel agitated, depressed, dizzy, confused, and more. These symptoms can be overwhelming and get in the way of everyday life. 

Overcoming Barriers to Treatment 

Once we’re diagnosed with trauma symptoms and seeking treatment, we must overcome the stigma associated with mental health, research treatment options, and find a trustworthy provider. This process can be challenging. For many, it’s emotional, time-consuming, and exhausting. 

Many treatment options require a formal diagnosis. To receive one, we must speak to a mental health professional about our trauma history and the symptoms we are experiencing. Sharing this information with a stranger can be incredibly difficult. 

Traditional PTSD Treatments 

Talk Therapy

Talk therapy requires us to continuously confront our trauma. For many, this is asking too much. 

Medication

Medications can reduce symptoms following trauma exposure. But some of us are not willing to take medications due to their high cost, side effects, or risk of dependency. 

The Need to Innovate on Traditional Treatments

We may not experience relief immediately after starting talk therapy and/or taking medication. The time it takes to experience relief after beginning a new treatment plan varies from person to person. But what is true for all of us is that working toward a meaningful improvement requires commitment, patience, and self-compassion. 

While there are many medications that can effectively treat symptoms following trauma exposure, around 20-30% of people who start taking medication stop.4 

20-25% of people diagnosed with trauma symptoms self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.5

There are many talk therapies developed specifically for trauma, including Cognitive Processing Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Stress Inoculation Training, Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB), and ketamine infusion therapy. In addition, the past decade has seen the growth of new biological treatment options like Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) and ketamine infusion therapy.

A New Model of Care

At Stella, we continue to innovate like our lives depend on it – because they do.

We’re built on an entirely new understanding of trauma treatment. Stella believes in the fusion of biological, psychological, and mind-body practices. 

Stella simplifies the healing journey. Our Patient Care Team will review symptoms and medical histories to determine if the Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB) or ketamine infusion therapy – two cutting-edge treatments that are fast, effective, and research-backed – is the right treatment plan.

You are our priority before, during, and after your treatment. Our Patient Care Team will periodically follow up with you to track your progress and ensure that you have the resources you need. We can also assist you in finding a Stella preferred mental healthcare provider in your area.

Stella is a team of medical doctors, psychologists, Patient Care Coordinators, and tireless advocates who are committed to your healing. If you’d like to learn more about SGB and ketamine infusion therapy, contact our Patient Care Team directly by calling 1-866-497-9248 or emailing care@stellacenter.com. 

  1. Itkowitz, C. (2021, October 28). Dropping the ‘D’ in PTSD is becoming the norm in Washington. The Washington Post. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/wp/2015/06/30/dropping-the-d-in-ptsd-is-becoming-the-norm/
  2. U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. (2018, September 13). How Common is PTSD in Adults? U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://www.ptsd.va.gov/understand/common/common_adults.asp 
  3. Ellen C. Meltzer, MD MSc,1 Tali Averbuch, MPP,1 Jeffrey H. Samet, MD MA MPH,1,5 Richard Saitz, MD MPH,1,3,4 Khelda Jabbar, MD,6 Christine Lloyd-Travaglini, MPH,7 and Jane M. Liebschutz, MD MPH1,5 Discrepancy in diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Treatment for the wrong reason https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3310322/Spoont, M, Arbisi, P., Fu, S., Greer, N., Kehle-Forbes, S., Meis, L., Rutks, R., & Wilt, T.J. (2013). Screening for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Primary Care: A Systematic Review [Internet]. Washington (DC): Department of Veterans Affairs (US). Available from: https://www.ncbi. nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK126691/ 
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