How Ketamine-Based Clinics Improve Veterans’ Mental Health

Dr. Sam Zandt has seen many patients struggling with post-traumatic stress disorder come to his office. Many arrive with similar grievances. doctors dispense mind-numbing drugs too freely, there’s a dearth of advance medical advice, and there’s rarely a treatment plan that complements the flurry of randomly distributed pills.

As the founder of the Las Vegas-based Calm Clinic, Zandt, a clinical psychiatrist who also teaches psychiatry at local universities, has been a proponent of unconventional treatments that have gained momentum and been legalized. last years.

One such practice, intravenous ketamine infusion therapy, has shown particularly significant promise for reducing the severity of PTSD symptoms in the veteran community.

Ketamine treatments have gained enough traction with alleviating symptoms that the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Community Care Network recently expanded its relationship with Ketamine Wellness Centers to provide veterans with additional treatment options, such as the first FDA-approved ketamine nasal spray.

Zand told Military Times that the move was overdue.

“We overdiagnose and overprescribe in psychiatry,” Zand said at the Las Vegas-based MCON convention on military and veterans culture. “What? [the Calm Clinic is] doing is taking more holistic, innovative measures like ketamine therapy and realizing that there are many other strategies we can use to improve our mental health.”

Veterans burdened with PTSD often come into the Calm Clinic experiencing hypervigilance and fight-or-flight symptoms, Zand added. With intravenous ketamine treatments, however, the body and nervous system become more relaxed, and thus patients are more receptive to treatment.

This approach, especially when supplemented with talk therapy, is a formula designed to produce immediate and lasting results, Zand said.

“As much talk therapy as you can do without resting and without letting your body recover, it’s hard to use that growth mindset,” she said. “So bringing relief and psychological growth is a combination we need for our veteran community, and we’re tailoring our program to work with vets to meet them where they’re at, with compassion.”

That personalized program begins with a patient-clinician meeting, either in person or online, for a comprehensive assessment of factors contributing to the patient’s PTSD symptoms.

Depending on how symptoms manifest, Zand’s team customizes a treatment plan using methods that range from traditional medications to talk therapy and electrical stimulation. According to him, the combination of these programs with different capacities has given huge results.

And the Quiet Clinic is not alone in its success. A recent VA study found that 86% of veteran participants who participated in ketamine infusion therapy showed significant improvement in treatment-resistant depression.

One way to further that success is to incorporate voice-based therapy before or after the ketamine injection. This approach, according to Thorkom Gee, a Los Angeles-based meditation specialist who practices sound and vibration therapies, helps achieve levels of physical and mental relaxation that can enhance the results of the infusion.

“Sound therapy quickly relaxes the body and mind to prepare you for a deeper sense of relaxation,” Gee told Military Times. “It can help prepare you for what you’re about to embark on during a ketamine session. You need that space of time to integrate the experience. And using vibrations and listening to music, especially tonal music rich in tones and sound images, helps us to induce a deeper sense of relaxation.”

Of course, peace has been hard to come by for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans. The 2022 Veterans Mental Health Study found that approximately 14% to 16% of veterans who served in the Global War on Terror suffer from PTSD.

And yet, in conjunction with these emerging therapies, an immersive, almost transformative experience is possible, according to Zand.

“We often think there’s something wrong with us that we have to fix ourselves,” Zand said. “And that’s not true. We all have a mental health journey. But this treatment is not turnaround care. We tailor it to our community. And guided by love and compassion, it works tremendously.”

John Simkins is a writer and editor for Military Times and a veteran of the USMC.

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