In this episode of the Psychedelic Medicine Podcast, Dr. Arsalan Azam joins to discuss the potential of ketamine therapy for helping to address the stress of major life transitions. Dr. Azam is a board-certified Emergency Medicine physician and medical director of Daydream MD. He attended medical school as a Dean’s Scholar at Case Western Medical School and completed his clinical rotations at the Cleveland Clinic. He has also worked as an emergency medicine physician around the country, including as a relief physician for hospitals impacted by staffing shortages.
In this conversation, Dr. Azam shares patient experiences from his own ketamine practice and discusses the complexities of different approaches to ketamine treatment and different indications, including how some individuals may benefit especially from ketamine assisted therapy, while others may be well served by stand-alone ketamine infusions, especially considering the cost differential of these treatments. Additionally, Dr. Azam explores the role integration and peer support can play in the context of ketamine treatments, mentioning these may be less cost-prohibitive ways for patients to get the most out of their experiences.
In this episode:
The kinds of life transitions ketamine is helpful with in Dr. Azam’s experience What kinds of patients Dr. Azam’s practice serves The unique mechanism of ketamine Leveraging ketamine treatment to navigate breakups or professional transitions Ketamine assisted psychotherapy vs stand-alone ketamine infusions, and when having the extra support of therapy may be especially beneficial The role of integration and peer support in ketamine treatments The research into ketamine treatment for suicidal ideation How Dr. Azam sets up treatment programs for different kinds of patients
“The magic of this neurobiology is that, unlike our existing tools which take weeks to kick in often, this one works within hours. And so it really becomes more of a rescue medication or a supportive medication for these transitions of life that works quickly.” [8:32]
“Think of our mind and our mental patterns as a piece of cold steel—and it’s kind of locked in that structure, in that pattern. Psychedelics, like ketamine and others, can heat that steel up, and make it much more moldable and then when it cools back down it’ll maintain a persistent new structure. So ketamine assisted therapy is a tool that helps us leverage that hot piece of steel to mold it into something else.” [11:56]
“Ketamine works very quickly to reduce suicidal thinking and its degree of effect directly corresponds to the degree of symptoms. So someone who has really severe suicidality is more likely to experience a response to ketamine and is more likely to experience a significant response to ketamine.” [18:36]
Daydream MD website
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Fireside Project website
Psychedelic Medicine Association