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Expert weighs in on use of ketamine in depression treatment

Published: Apr. 26, 2022 at 4:45 PM EDT
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(WBNG) -- On a national level, psychedelics have seen debate on their use as a treatment for depression; In New York, there is already one drug with hallucinogenic properties that is legal.

In high doses, ketamine can cause hallucinations, but in low doses, it can cause dissociative anesthesia which gives the user a feeling of unreality.

Dr. Tara Belsare, a psychiatrist in contemplative medicine does not categorize ketamine as psychedelic but said it can hold some similar properties.

However, Dr. Belsare told 12 News it acts on a different receptor than other psychedelics.

Due to it being able to cause hallucinations, she said the form of treatment needs to be monitored by medical professionals.

“Taken alone hallucinations can be pretty dangerous,” Dr. Belsare told 12 News. “However if you are in a controlled setting with a trained therapist who can help you process the images and discuss why your subconscious mind is coming up with these images it’s a very profitable experience psychologically.”

She recommends attempting meditation practices first which can give a similar effect as ketamine; Dr. Belsare said she uses the drug to treat long-standing depression when a patient is not responding to anti-depressants.

“They aren’t terrible horrible things to be avoided. they are things to be careful with and used respectfully,” she said.