Traumatic experiences can cause a severe disturbance to the human psyche and soul. The overall lifetime prevalence of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is at 6.8% in the United States. The rate of PTSD is significantly higher in females (5.2%) versus males (1.8%). This stems not only from military experiences, but physical and emotional abuse, bullying, shaming, interpersonal violence, sexual trauma, and criminal acts.
These traumatic experiences can lead to flashbacks, nightmares, avoidance of triggers, and hypervigilant states. But what if the opposite is true? What if one were to have an experience equally powerful but positive? Is it possible that an ineffable, spiritual experience can be a kind of “reverse” PTSD?
For example, have you ever had a beautiful moment in life that you can recall with crystal-clear clarity? And just by thinking about it can instantly change your mood and perspective? Maybe it’s seeing your child first being placed in your hands. Maybe it’s being in love for the first time. Maybe a memory of the perfect vacation you had. It’s truly amazing how these special moments in life can continue to impact us long after the time has passed.
Now, this is where ketamine infusions comes in.
We know ketamine works on the NMDA receptor and has biochemical reactions that increases BDNF, which in turn increases neural plasticity and synaptogenesis. But what is less discussed is how ketamine can help catalyze experiences that are transcendental, spiritual, and ineffable.
One patient described feeling connected to God/Universe/Source and felt deeply intertwined with the fabric of humanity.
Another patient described seeing his guardian angel who spread out its huge wings and flapped the wings towards him. He then felt a dark energy leave his body immediately afterwards.
And finally, one patient saw her grandfather who passed away years ago. She saw the spirit came back to her, and told her, “You are doing a good job of raising your son. I’m proud of you.”
After these experiences, some of our patients would cry tears of joy and others would feel that something heavy had been lifted from their soul. They walked out at the same physical weight, but psychologically, emotionally, and spiritually lighter.
By remembering these powerful experiences and keeping them close to their heart, they were able to have a profound sense of calmness and peace that was not felt before.
Ketamine is a powerful medicine, but it’s not only the medicine being prescribed. While we cannot point to a scientific study to support how this aspect of ketamine works (and honestly that may never happen anyways), we cannot deny the extraordinary experience of those whose lives have been transformed.