Introducing An Innovative New Treatment For Mental Health
I am the director of DENOVO Therapy, a ketamine clinic that combines medical and mental health therapy. You may or may not have heard of ketamine (more on that below). At DENOVO Therapy, all of our medical professionals and therapists/counselors are fully licensed and gifted practitioners.
There is a beautiful synergy to working at the juncture of these two professions. By combining the two, we are able to enhance both experiences of medicine and psychotherapy. This opens up different options for care and gives us a new tool for mental health. We believe that makes us unique because our innovation is in the combination of ketamine and talk therapy. We provide talk therapy, low dose intravenous ketamine, and ketamine assisted psychotherapy for a variety of mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar, and even suicidality (Domany & McCulleumsmith, 2021).
Mental health and its relationship with society continues to be stigmatized. When I tell people what I do, I often hear jokes like, “Well I’m glad I don’t need that! I’ll tell ‘so and so’ because they are REAL messed up!” This doesn’t tend to exist with other medical conditions.
For example, we can see when you break a bone because of an X-ray. Yet, when someone is suffering from depression, they often feel the need to hide it or downplay it. Additionally, they shame themselves or are shamed by their community. Often people do not seek care until their suffering has worsened.
Currently, we have the ability to see into the brain and tell differences between a depressed brain and a non-depressed brain (Abdallah et al., 2016). Soon, advances in this technology will reduce stigma with depression and anxiety to be like the societal response to an X-ray of a bone fracture. It is true that there are many gifted medical and therapy practitioners providing care and counseling for patients that get better. That is a beautiful thing. Simultaneously though, large parts of the population are not responding to counseling and prescription treatments. For those who receive psychotherapy, 20% quit prematurely (Swift & Greenburg, 2012). The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report that 50% of patients with Major Depressive Disorder (MDD) have treatment-resistant depression (TRD). This means that they have tried two or more medications/interventions without significant relief (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, 2018). TRD patients have a 35% higher all-cause mortality compared to non-TRD patients (Li et al., 2019) and are twice as likely to require hospitalization (Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services, 2018). The U. S. Department of Veteran Affairs reported that in 2018, more than 17 veterans a day commit suicide. Let. That. Sink. In.
Our mission at DENOVO Therapy is to bring an innovative treatment to the West Texas region in hopes of reclaiming, awakening, and saving lives. Denovo is Latin for “of new” and is applied to new creation or synthesis. Our slogan “Find a New Beginning” is not tongue-in-cheek or hyperbole.
I grew. Mindfulness meditation and seeing a therapist helped me to stop having panic attacks. I stayed plugged in with my faith community. I focused on living from my values. I worked on diet, exercise, and time outdoors. My wife was on the journey with me, making her own life changes, but her postpartum depression still lingered. Desperate for a treatment, I started ready study after study about the effectiveness of ketamine for mental health. I discovered an entire industry taking a different approach. Frustrated with the lack of options in Lubbock, I decided to open a ketamine clinic.
Ketamine was developed by the researcher, Dr. Edward Domino, in the late 60s. In a July 2021 interview with Hamilton Morris, he recounts the story of the first patient who reported ketamine was the only medicine that helped with her depression. He laments not starting a study for ketamine for depression 30+ years ago (Morris, 2021). Thankfully, researchers later paved the way for ketamine’s use as an anti-depressant. Like other medications, ketamine is used for many things. For example, ketamine is an anesthetic approved for human use in 1970 and an analgesic used by combat medics in theater. Today, ketamine has an enormous body of research supporting its use for mental health (Serfani et al., 2014) with clinicians and patients all over the world endorsing its effects.
It took me a year to open the clinic. My wife was our first patient. During her first ketamine infusion, she cried and hugged me. She said, “Thank you. It feels like it’s lighting up parts of my brain that were asleep.” In the clinic, we continue to see exciting patient results from ketamine and the combination of ketamine with psychotherapy (Dore, 2019). Ketamine is not a magic bullet, and, like other medications, it is not for everyone. But for me, my wife, and many of our patients, it is a significant tool to promote healing and alleviate suffering.