Can Ketamine + Neuropsychological Testing Be the Secret to Crushing Depression?

For the last year, Harmony has proudly offered a variety of affordable and effective treatments to people across West Virginia and Western Pennsylvania. We are always striving to remain on the cutting edge of treatment options in order to best serve our patients and our communities. That’s why we are excited to announce that our Wexford office will soon be bringing high-quality neuropsychological testing and intravenous ketamine treatments to Pittsburgh.

But what is neuropsychological testing? And how can ketamine therapy restore your mental wellbeing? In this article, you’ll learn the basics of these treatment options, including information about:

  • What neuropsychology is
  • How neuropsychological testing works
  • The history of ketamine in the medical world
  • Who can benefit from neuropsychological testing and ketamine therapy
a word cloud full of words and phrases related to mental health arranged in the shape of a brain
Neuropsychology and neuropsychological evaluation focus on understanding the relationship between the physical structures of the brain and cognitive and behavioral functioning.

Understanding Neuropsychology

Neuropsychology is one of many different approaches to mental and behavioral health. It is a specialized type of psychology that focuses on understanding the relationship between the physical structures of the brain and both cognitive and behavioral health. Neuropsychologists use different tools and assessments to evaluate, treat, and rehabilitate people who are experiencing neurological or psychological distress.

One of the reasons neuropsychology is such a valuable tool is that it can be used to better understand a wide variety illnesses and disorder. This is because, in many cases, brain disorders or damage can result in mental or behavioral symptoms. These are just a few of the conditions that we can use neuropsychology to better understand:

  • Learning and developmental disorders
  • Attention deficit/ hyperactivity
  • Endocrine disorders
  • Brain tumors/ cancers
  • Dementia
  • Alzheimer’s
  • Epilepsy/ seizure disorders
  • Sex chromosome abnormalities
  • Klinefelter syndrome
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Autism spectrum disorders
  • Mood disorders (Major Depressive Disorder, Bipolar Depression, Post-traumatic Depression, etc.
Neuropsychological testing is helpful in diagnosing many mental disorders.

How Neuropsychological Testing Works

Counselors use psychological testing every day to understand the cognitive and behavioral states of our patients. Neuropsychological testing dives a little bit deeper-- it is designed not only to assess cognitive disorders, but neurological and physiological disorders as well. It can be recommended to assist in differential diagnosis or evaluation before and after a neurosurgical procedure. Neuropsychological testing can also provide a baseline by which a patient’s progress can be measured as they undergo other therapies.

Neuropsychological testing involves two key parts-- an interview and the administration of tests. Usually, these tests are simple pen-and-paper style tests. Unlike psychological tests, neuropsychological tests are standardized assessments. What does that mean? They are given to all patients in the exact same manner every time, and a patient’s scores on the assessment are determined by comparing their responses to the average response of healthy individuals from a healthy demographic.

In order to gain a more complete understanding of how a patient’s brain is functioning, neuropsychologists may administer tests that assess several facets of brain health, including:

  • Intelligence
  • Executive function (planning, abstraction, conceptualization)
  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Language processing
  • Perception
  • Sensorimotor functioning
  • Motivation
  • Mood state and emotion
  • Quality of life
  • Personality
A photograph of the inside of an operating room
Ketamine has been a key agent in general anesthesia used in hospitals for more than 50 years.

A Brief Medical History of Ketamine Treatment

For more than five decades, ketamine has been used safely in hospitals as a key component of general anesthesia. More recently, doctors have uncovered another use for ketamine-- it turns out that ketamine is extremely effective in providing rapid depression relief in individuals whose depression has been resistant to other drug and non-drug treatment methods.

Because it is such a novel treatment, we are only just beginning to understand the long-term effects of ketamine treatment, which has delayed ketamine from achieving FDA approval as a treatment for depression, chronic neuropathic pain, and similar neuropsychological applications. Efforts are currently being made to expedite the approval process by creating a large, national registry of patients undergoing ketamine treatment to study the outcomes of ketamine use.

At Harmony, ketamine treatment is a quick and painless outpatient procedure designed to be as convenient and discreet as possible for our patients. Appointments can be scheduled in advance or as a part of one of our lifestyle membership options, eliminating the need to sit in the waiting room with other patients. Ketamine is delivered intravenously, and the procedure takes approximately an hour.

Best of all, most patients begin experiencing relief from their depressive disorder symptoms after just a few treatments, which means you will be on your way to achieving balance in your life in no time.

Two women sit together in a forest in the autumn, talking by a campfire
Can neuropsychological testing or IV ketamine treatment help you on your journey to mental wellness?

Are these treatment options right for me?

Determining whether or not any treatment is right for one of our patients is a highly individualized process. However, if you fit into any of the categories below, neuropsychological testing or IV ketamine treatment respectively may be a treatment option you should consider with your doctor.

Who Should Receive Neuropsychological Testing

Neuropsychological testing is helpful in assessing a wide variety of neurological and physiological disorders. You may be a good candidate for neuropsychological testing if:

  • You are in the process of receiving a differential diagnosis. If your doctor is currently determining whether changes in your mental or behavioral state are related to a depressive disorder, brain disease, or the effect of treatment you may be undergoing.
  • You are scheduled to undergo a neurosurgical procedure.  The standardized nature of neuropsychological testing makes it a simple and effective way to measure the success of a neurosurgical procedure through before and after testing.
  • You are beginning another kind of treatment for a psychological or behavioral disorder. How can you objectively determine how successful a treatment is? It can be difficult to quantify. Because neuropsychological testing is standardized, it can provide an effective way to measure the effectiveness of other treatments (such as medication or non-invasive treatments like Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation).

Who Should Receive IV Ketamine Treatment

Intravenous ketamine is an emerging treatment option that holds a great deal of promise for those suffering from certain types of depression or chronic pain. Ketamine treatment may be a good treatment option for you if:

  • You are struggling with severe depression. While mild to moderate depressive symptoms can often be managed with a combination of medication and talk therapy, severe depressive symptoms may not be entirely managed by these therapies alone.
  • Your depression has been unresponsive to other types of treatment. Depressive disorders such as Major Depressive Disorder (MDD),Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Bipolar Depression present differently and respond to treatment differently for everyone. If your symptoms have not responded to other treatments, IV ketamine treatment may be able to provide relief.
  • You are experiencing severe or treatment-resistant neuropathic pain. Ketamine treatment can be helpful in managing a variety of types of chronic pain that is not well-managed by other means. This includes trigeminal neuralgia, Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS), Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy (RSD), phantom limb pain, post-herpetic neuralgia, chronic headaches, chronic back or neck pain, and severe or debilitating musculoskeletal or joint pain.
A photograph of two women hiking up a steep, rocky path. The woman in front turns around and extends her hand to help the woman behind her
Achieving mental health is a journey, and neuropsychological evaluation and IV ketamine can help you reach your destination.

Neuropsychological testing and IV ketamine therapy can be powerful tools in the fight against disorders such as depression, OCD, Anxiety, PTSD, and chronic neuropathic pain. Make an appointment with one of Harmony’s certified therapists today to learn more about how these treatments can help restore your mental wellbeing today. If you have a story about how neuropsychological testing or ketamine therapy has improved your life or the life of a loved one, we would love to hear about your experiences in the comments section below.

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