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Ketamine Assisted Therapy as a Workplace Benefit

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Ketamine Assisted Therapy drugs for emotional wellbeing: Since the pandemic started, 51% of employers have fielded employee complaints of burnout or mental fatigue. “But, removing the stigma associated with mental issues can work wonders,” says Raeann Burgo, an employment attorney with Fisher Phillips, whose firm conducted the employee mental health survey.

Depression is the third-leading cause of disability worldwide. The prevalence of mental health complaints, which leads to increased attrition and reduced productivity, creates an opportunity for CEOs to respond. Many businesses are addressing this by encouraging employees to take advantage of existing employee assistance programs (EAP) which offer counseling and other benefits.

But, as Harvard Business Review proclaimed, “It’s a new era for mental health at work.”
Some companies offer promising therapies like ketamine-assisted psychotherapy (KAP) for depression and addiction. KAP is a clinical application of psychotherapy and low-dose ketamine treatments with medical supervision. KAP therapy uses small doses of ketamine infusions under the supervision of a medical provider.

Two companies have announced KAP programs this year alone: socially conscious soap company Dr. Bonners and a premium wellness company, HempLucid.

Ketamine Assisted Therapy
Ketamine Assisted Therapy

What is Ketamine Assisted Therapy Drug Ketamine?

Ketamine is the only psychedelic drug approved by the Food & Drug Administration. First used as a general anesthetic on the battlefields of Vietnam, popularized because it did not slow the heart rate like other anesthetics. Today, ketamine is used by first responders to calm suicidal persons, and increasingly, ketamine is accepted as a cutting-edge medical treatment for depression.

While ketamine, which is on the World Health Organization’s Model List of Essential Medicines, isn’t new, the use of ketamine as a therapy for depression is an emerging treatment. Yale School of Medicine conducted the first promising study in 2000. In 2019, the FDA approved a ketamine-based antidepressant.

Ketamine modulates NMDA receptors, which creates a surge of glutamate. In larger doses, this produces anesthesia; in smaller doses, such as those used in KAP, glutamate causes rapid mood improvements. Scientists believe “burst mode,” rapid firing within the brain’s lateral habenula, contribute to depression.

Ketamine Assisted Therapy Drug
Ketamine Assisted Therapy Drug

It is also believed that ketamine turns off this “burst mode,” making it easier to process negative emotions. Studies have also shown that ketamine leads to the creation of new neurons and new neural connections.

A comprehensive corporate mental health program will be the hallmark of progressive brands; after all, this new era means there is an accepted benefit to a mind-body approach to health and healing. A comprehensive corporate mental health program may also include team building, massage, float tanks, and other types of holistic healing therapies. KAP can be an important cornerstone of employee benefit to a conscious healing culture.
Companies offering KAP as part of a comprehensive mental health benefit formalize it by partnering with providers and psychedelic health care treatment organizations, like Numinus or Anthea.

Before ketamine treatment begins, the patient and the provider work together to develop a treatment plan. A typical course of KAP is four to six treatments over three to six weeks, with boosters scheduled as needed. KAP frequency depends on therapy goals, reaction to the ketamine, and the time needed to process and integrate the insights gained after each treatment. When used alone as a psychiatric intervention, ketamine’s antidepressant and anti-rumination effects are typically immediate. When used in combination with psychotherapy as a part of a KAP program, ketamine’s effects are elongated.

Providers implement the treatment for employees with a medical diagnosis at an approved facility at the employer’s cost. During the treatment, patients may experience hallucinations, “out of body” experiences, and unsettling changes in perception of vision, time, and texture. Despite potential side effects like high blood pressure and nausea, patients and doctors herald the treatment as transformative. Multiple clinical studies show improved outcomes for depression patients.

Ketamine Assisted Therapy sessions
Ketamine Assisted Therapy sessions

As with other employer benefits, the cost may or may not be wholly covered. Costs for a single treatment range between $150 to $400 per session.

What Are the Benefits of Ketamine Assisted Therapy?

Ketamine positively changes depression, even in cases most resistant to pharmaceutical treatments. Clinical studies in humans show ketamine treatments for depression and anxiety are faster and longer lasting than pharmacology treatments. One study concluded ketamine had a “robust and rapid effect on depression that sustained at the end of one month.”

Another study on patients with treatment-resistant depression produced a 47.2% reduction response in depression with no cognitive decline. Within the workplace, improvements include better collaboration and fewer emotional responses to workplace stress. These outcomes lead to deeper team connectivity, which creates a healthier, more productive workplace.

Companies with holistically happy and healthy employees will not only have increased productivity, but they will also have an edge in attracting the best and brightest employees because whether the employee engages in KAP, all employees benefit from a highly functional and happy workplace.

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