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Ketamine therapy for mood disorders in Arizona

FAQs About Ketamine

How Does Ketamine Work?

Research shows that ketamine stimulates the growth and regrowth of neurons and connections in the brain. It is believed that ketamine affects glutamate, a neurotransmitter that plays an important role in neuronal activation in the brain.

Is Ketamine Safe?

Ketamine was first introduced to the medical field in 1964 as an anesthetic. It quickly became a common go-to for doctors since it proved safe to use on children, animals, and the elderly.  Research into its therapeutic and mind-altering effects began soon after, in the 1970s. In the 1990s and 2000s, research emerged on its effectiveness in treating eating disorders, alcoholism, depression, anxiety, PTSD, chronic pain, and suicidality.  

 As anesthesiologists, we have safely administered ketamine as an anesthetic to thousands of patients. However, in our ketamine clinic, we are administering ketamine at subanesthetic doses, making it even safer.  Additionally, our physician anesthesiologists directly administer the medication themselves. You could not be in a safer and more comfortable environment to receive ketamine infusions than you would be at Advanced Wellness and Pain.

The major risk factors we screen for are uncontrolled hypertension, unstable heart disease, uncontrolled thyroid disease, history of epilepsy, schizophrenia, mania, or psychosis. Typical side effects that can occur include nausea, vomiting, drowsiness, dizziness, headache, and fatigue.

What Is The Success Rate For Ketamine Treatment?

The national success rate of relief from symptoms after undergoing a series of ketamine infusions is reported to be up to 70%.  However, our unique process, the Integrative Ketamine Wellness Program, has a success rate of over 90% because we provide the extra resources and support that most other places don’t. In contrast, traditional antidepressants, such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Wellbutrin, have much lower success rates (some studies showing less than a 50% success rate).

What Should You Look For In A Ketamine Clinic?

  1. A physician on the premises should be participating in your care as opposed to “medically directing” the location from afar.
  2. The provider should be able to adjust the dose during infusions so that you receive the optimal dose in every session, rather than following a cookie-cutter recipe or protocol. The provider should also be comfortable discussing your dosage with you.
  3. You should have adequate preparation before your first infusion so that you’re in the proper mindset to receive care.
  4. The setting should be optimized (private room, music, lighting, etc.) so that you feel safe and comfortable. It should not feel anxiety-provoking like a typical hospital environment.
  5. You should have adequate integration of your infusion experiences. Integration is the process of unpacking and analyzing your infusion experiences, and incorporating these insights into your life. Without proper integration, you risk missing out on 95% of the benefit of your experience.
  6. Your progress should be tracked and objective quantitative feedback given to you as you complete the treatment process.
  7. There should be no external distractions, such as televisions in the room, regardless of the content. The purpose of this treatment is to facilitate you looking within your mind and finding a resolution to your state of suffering. To find your inner peace.
  8. You shouldn’t feel rushed out the door immediately after your infusion is complete. You should be given time to decompress and do integration work before you leave.

Is Ketamine Treatment Covered By Insurance?

At this time, most major insurance companies do not cover ketamine infusion therapy. If they do cover ketamine treatments, there are strict inclusion guidelines that must be met. This usually means documented failed treatment care from one of your established psychiatrists or pain doctor. Therefore, Advanced Wellness and Pain does not accept health insurance at this time. We will be happy to create super bills for you to submit to your insurance for reimbursement. You will want to contact your own health insurance company to verify any coverage. You are welcome to use your HSA (Health Saving Account) for care with our clinic. 

What Is Involved In A Ketamine Infusion?

At our clinic, you will be continuously monitored for the entire duration of your infusions. Each patient gets a private room so you can feel safe during your 60 minute (or longer) sessions. Heart rate, oxygen saturation percentages, and blood pressure will be watched closely by our physicians. You will be monitored via live camera at all times for your safety. Additionally, during your infusion, you will have a call button with you so that if you ever need assistance we are just a push of a button away. Periodically, we will enter the room to monitor the level of effect and adjust your specific dosing. 

Patients can expect some temporary changes in vision and the ability to focus on people or objects. Speech can potentially be slurred, slowed, and it isn’t uncommon to feel a floating sensation. After your infusion is complete, you will be monitored for approximately 20-30 minutes during your recovery period. You will then be discharged from the clinic after your faculties return to a safe level. Because you can not drive home after an infusion, you will be discharged to a responsible driver. 

What Is The Process For Ketamine Treatment?

After consultation by one of our physicians,  we will prepare an individualized treatment plan for your particular diagnosis. The induction or stabilization phase usually consists of  3 hours of psychedelic integration coaching and 6 one-hour ketamine infusion sessions. Prior to starting your infusion treatment, you will spend 1 hour with our specialized ketamine integration coaches to prepare you for your first infusion.  During this hour, you will set goals, intentions, and learn what to expect during the ketamine treatment process. Our clinic uses ketamine as a catalyst for change. We will teach you a series of life skills necessary to assist you in healing from your past traumas. We’re aiming to fix the root causes of depression, anxiety, or PTSD.  Your ketamine sessions will open up your subconscious to allow you to address and move on from these past issues.  Our coaches will assist you in unpacking and resolving all of this. We believe that the pathway to achieving long-term success and inner peace is to heal from within. Every single aspect of our process is designed to inspire your inner healing journey. Most of our patients report feeling significant improvement of their symptoms by the third infusion, and more than 70% by the fourth. There are even some patients who report feeling relief after only one infusion. Regardless of the timeline, our patients that complete the full program report life-changing and often life-saving results.

Once patients complete their initial stabilization infusions, they will begin a maintenance phase. Maintenance varies from patient to patient.  Some patients require more frequent infusions than others. It is important to remember that our patients will work closely with our doctors to ensure their infusion path is right for them every step of the way.

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James T. Leathem, DO

Dr. James Leathem is a board-certified anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He was born and raised in Connecticut and graduated from Florida Southern College with a bachelor of science in marketing management with minors in sociology and communications. He obtained his medical degree from Midwestern University’s Arizona College of Osteopathic Medicine and completed his residency in anesthesiology at Michigan State University and its affiliated McLaren Greater Lansing Hospital.

In 2015, after residency, Dr. Leathem returned to Arizona to practice anesthesiology. He joined Red Mountain Anesthesiologists and worked primarily at Banner Baywood Medical Center in Mesa, performing 100% of his own cases. He was made partner in the group after demonstrating 3 years of anesthesia excellence and administering over 4,000 anesthetics. In 2019, a corporate change occurred and an opportunity presented itself in which he was able to transition out of the hospital to surgery center and clinic-based anesthesia.

Dr. Leathem realizes that the only constant in life is change. In 2020, amidst the global pandemic, his career took a different direction. This change led him to collaborate with Dr. Wong and Dr. Sharma and they founded Advanced Wellness and Pain (AWAP). Their mission is to provide a variety of state-of-the-art procedural services that improve patients’ quality of life and overall physical and mental well-being.

Dr. Leathem believes that we are all a work in progress and that each day, one should strive to make positive changes in their life. He is here to help empower each patient on their journey to be their best self and live their best life. When you are being cared for by Dr. Leathem, you can be assured that he will give you his undivided attention and time.

Gregory Wong, MD

Dr. Wong is a Board-Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of both the American Society of Anesthesiology and the Arizona Society of Anesthesiology. He did his undergraduate training at the University of California at Davis, Davis, California; doctorate training at The University of Health Sciences of the Chicago Medical School, North Chicago, IL; and his post-doctoral training at the Integrated Program at the University of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ. He has spent his whole 24-year career practicing in Arizona.

Dr. Wong grew up in the Bay Area of California. He is married and is raising three daughters. At the early age of 12 years old, he knew he wanted to become a physician. His love of the human spirit, intrigue of human physiology, and compassion for human suffering led him to the path of anesthesiology and pain medicine.

Today, Dr. Wong realizes patients need a holistic biophysical-mental-spiritual care. This philosophy has brought him to the studies of regenerative medicine and infusion therapies. He has firsthandily witnessed the overwhelming success of these therapies for treating chronic pain and depression and the return of patients of “life-functionality.”

“There has never been a time more important than now to advocate for our patients in these difficult times. We owe it to our patients to offer these state-of-the-art treatment modalities that weren’t available before.”

Deepak Sharma, MD, MBA

Dr. Sharma is a Board Certified Anesthesiologist and a member of the American Society of Anesthesiologists. He completed three degrees at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA: a Bachelor in Finance, a Master in Business Administration, and a Doctor of Medicine. He went on to complete residency at the Mount Sinai Morningside-West Hospital System in New York, NY and post-graduate fellowship at Stanford Medical Center in Palo Alto, CA.

Dr. Sharma is committed to treating his patients as a whole with a comprehensive biophysical-mental-spiritual approach. He is a lifelong learner and is constantly researching cutting-edge therapies backed by scientific studies. He has taken a particular interest in regenerative and infusion therapies after witnessing firsthand their significant benefits on those suffering from chronic pain and depression. In his free time, Dr. Sharma enjoys spending time with his family and friends, hiking, traveling, reading, and meditation.