Meet your Care Team

Dr. Anita Sanan, Ketamine-assisted therapy, ketamine therapy

Dr. Anita Sanan

Medical Director

Dr. Anita Sanan is a board-certified Anesthesiologist practicing since 2010 whose taken on many administrative and leadership roles within her department at the Kelowna General Hospital. She is actively involved in academics as a clinical faculty member at the University of British Columbia, teaching both medical students and residents.

Dr. Francois Louw, Co-founder + Chief Medical Officer

Dr. Francois Louw

Treating Physician, Research & Innovation lead

Dr. Louw is a founding member and treating physician at the Bill Nelems Pain and Research Centre, the biggest comprehensive pain clinic in Canada with 20K+ patient visits a year. Dr Francois Louw is triple certified in GP anesthesia, ER medicine and Pain Medicine, as well as a Clinical Assistant Professor at UBC.

Dr. Zach Walsh, PhD, Principal Investigator

Dr. Zach Walsh, PhD

Clinical Psychologist

Clinical psychologist, Research Affiliate with the BC Centre on Substance Use, and a Professor of Psychology at UBC, where he directs the Therapeutic, Recreational, and Problematic Substance Use lab and the Problematic Substance Use clinic. Member MAPS Canada Advisory Board and a member of the International Research Society on Psychedelics.

Dr. Elena Kwon


Dr. Elena Kwon works in the department of Anesthesiology & Pain Medicine at Edmonton Clinic Health Academy.

Meet the Team | Brittany Skusek, Head of Community

Brittany Skusek

Nurse & Integration Specialist

Brittany Skusek is a Registered Nurse, Yoga and Mindfulness Teacher with over 10 years of experience in acute care nursing. She has studied around the world in various forms of holistic healing therapies, and her passion lies in weaving the science and western medical approaches, with alternative therapies to help people navigate through life with more ease, grace and love.

Nina Gregoire

Research Intern

Nina is a third-year doctoral student at the University of British Columbia, pursuing a Ph.D. in Applied Health/Social Psychology. Concurrently, she is in her second year of law studies at the University of Essex, focusing on human rights and employment law.

As a dual-degree student, Nina navigates the interdisciplinary landscape of psychology and law, bringing a unique perspective to both fields. She is driven by a passion for understanding and improving healthcare models. She specializes in the evaluation of healthcare systems, aiming to bridge the gap between psychological principles and practical applications in the realm of healthcare equity. Her academic journey is supported by funding from SSHRC, UBC, and Mitacs.

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depression and ketamine

Frequently Asked Questions

Ketamine-assisted therapy (KAT) combines the use of ketamine with psychotherapy as a treatment for mental health and chronic pain. Ketamine is proven to be a safe medication, used in hospital settings since 1970. Studies for its novel application for depression began in 2000 and is supported by a rapidly growing body of evidence.

Ketamine is not a magic pill that can solve any problem – but the insights the experience allows can catalyze lasting positive change, deep healing and transformation – with the support of psychotherapy and holistic lifestyle shifts.

Yes, ketamine was originally approved as an anesthetic by the FDA in 1970. It’s known for its safety profile, especially because it doesn’t suppress breathing like other anesthetics. While it has anesthetic properties, it’s used in much lower doses in the context of KAT, aiming for its psychoactive and transformative effects.

Ketamine boosts neuroplasticity, especially in the prefrontal cortex, a vital area for regulating emotions and attention. This enhances the brain’s ability to form new positive connections and break away from negative thought loops.

Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist, and that accounts for many of its actions. The mechanism by which ketamine exerts its antidepressant effect is still being elucidated, and is undergoing much research. Studies show a statistically significant reduction in suicidality and depressive symptoms with the use of ketamine in sub-anesthetic doses.

It induces dissociative anesthesia, a trance-like state providing pain relief, sedation, and amnesia. The distinguishing features of ketamine anaesthesia are preserved breathing and airway reflexes, stimulated heart function with increased blood pressure, and moderate bronchodilation.

For pain patients, ketamine can help ‘reset’ pain receptors to lower the frequency and intensity of pain signals over time. For mood disorder patients, ketamine has a number of therapeutic effects such as helping excite new neural pathways that improve mood, sleep, and more.

With psychotherapy and integration, KAT may improve psychological flexibility so that patterns of behavior are modified in a positive way.

We are a private pay healthcare clinic and at this time, do not directly bill insurance companies. We cannot guarantee your insurance or benefit company will provide coverage for this treatment. We will provide an invoice for you to submit for any repayment available to you. Currently, Ketamine treatments are not covered by the MSP Services Plan.

MSP – No, it is not covered under the provincial health plan.

Insurance – Insurance companies differ widely in their policies for reimbursement. We suggest checking with your provider ahead of time.

The cost of a therapeutic Ketamine experience is $1400. There is a one-time $400 Ketamine Therapy consultation fee for a physical and psychiatric screening to ensure the safety of the treatment. This will not be charged again for any further treatment with us. Other pricing options are available after the initial treatment.

Once you have undergone your Ketamine Therapy Consultation and been assessed by our medical team, you can be scheduled for treatment.

This varies for each individual. Some might benefit from a single session, while others might undergo multiple sessions. It’s a personal journey, and the number of sessions will depend on your unique needs and therapeutic goals.

SSRIs target the serotonin system in the brain and usually take a few weeks to show effects. Ketamine, on the other hand, targets the glutamate system, resulting in immediate effects often within hours. Ketamine offers a unique psychological experience which can provide deeper insights and healing.

During the assessment phase, members of the medical team will evaluate your needs to determine if KAT is the right fit for you. In general, those seeking relief from conditions like depression, anxiety, and PTSD might benefit, but each individual’s needs and history are considered. You can also view our Eligibility Criteria to learn more.

Some patients may feel tired, groggy, or experience mild nausea after a KAT session. Often these side effects will resolve on their own after a full night’s sleep.

Odyssey’s approach to KAT is a comprehensive, multi-phase experience. It begins with a thorough assessment, followed by a preparation phase, personalized counselling, and integration guidance. This holistic approach ensures patients not only undergo the ketamine session but are well-prepared beforehand and receive ample support afterwards. The treatment emphasizes setting clear intentions and integrating the insights from the sessions into daily life.

Preparation is a key part of the Odyssey experience. In the Preparation phase, you’ll meet one-on-one with a psychedelically-aware counsellor. This session will help you explore your personal history, current needs, and set a clear intention for the experience. Reflecting on what you want to achieve and discussing potential goals is crucial.

During a session, you’ll be administered a dose of intramuscular (IM) ketamine in a comfortable setting with eye-covering, blanket, and music to support your experience. A non-ordinary state of consciousness will ensue, when you may experience altered perceptions, revisit memories, or have introspective insights. You are in a safe, controlled environment with medical professionals to guide and monitor you.

You may experience tingling, euphoria, and a feeling of separation from the environment, your body, your problems, and your pain. Your sense of time and space may be significantly altered. You may feel yourself to be in this detached state for up to an hour after which you will be taken to a lounge where you will be provided with juice, water, or a light snack. Once the physician feels you are ready to go home, they will let your support person know that your treatment is completed.

Post-session support is a vital part of the Odyssey experience. A day or so after your treatment, you have a post-dose counselling session to review the insights and emotions that came up. Your counsellor will guide you through the key parts of your insights and help you apply your learnings to your daily life. Additionally, you’ll visit your Odyssey Online portal to receive guidance on how you can use Mind + Body Integration practices to discuss and process what you experienced.

This is the time to understand and assimilate the insights and emotions from the session, ensuring they contribute positively to your ongoing life journey. The emphasis is on taking concrete actions that resonate with the insights you gained, promoting lasting change.

Integration is the process of reflecting on and incorporating insights gained from a ketamine session into your everyday life. While ketamine boosts neuroplasticity, making lasting change requires effort and action. It’s vital to take positive steps after your session to ensure the benefits are long-lasting.

The results of ketamine are often gradual improvements, rather than sudden or dramatic changes. Patients may need a series of treatments to gain longer-lasting effects.

That being said, ketamine-assisted therapy is considered the only rapid-acting treatment for depression. For patients with mood disorder, some will begin to feel better immediately after their first therapy session and this has been seen specifically in patients experiencing suicide ideation. Others will not notice significant relief until they complete a series of treatments.

There are no known long-term side effects of receiving ketamine on a short-term basis in a medical setting.

Yes. Ketamine has many legitimate uses in medicine as an anaesthetic agent. It is also used to treat acute pain in an emergency setting. Ketamine is sometimes prescribed at low doses for severe chronic pain and is given intravenously, intramuscularly, intranasally, and sublingually for the treatment of major depressive disorder, treatment-resistant depression, and suicidality at medical clinics throughout North America and Europe. You need a referral from a GP, psychiatrist or nurse practitioner to access Ketamine in a medical clinical setting.

Ketamine was originally developed as a fast-acting dissociative anaesthetic. Ketamine-assisted therapy for treating pain and mood disorders is an “off-label” treatment, which means the medicine (ketamine) is being used to treat different conditions from the condition for which its use was originally approved. “Off-label” treatment is common practice throughout the world by medical professionals.

There is a good evidence base for using ketamine, especially in treatment-resistant depression and rapidly decreasing suicidal ideation. This medication has been used safely for many years.

When ketamine is administered in a closely monitored treatment with excellent medical and psychological oversight, the risk is low. However, in an uncontrolled recreational setting, there is a risk of addiction.

Yes. Treatment requires a referral from your family doctor, GP, pain specialist, nurse practitioner or psychiatrist.

Clinical trials for KAT have shown positive results in over 70% of patients with treatment-resistant depression.

Some patients can achieve long-term relief after one treatment of KAT. Others find that ongoing therapy enhances the effects of psychotherapy, lifestyle changes, and/or pharmaceutical drugs such as antidepressants. Follow-up or ‘booster’ ketamine-assisted therapy sessions can be provided on an as-needed basis for maintenance.

You do not need to arrive with someone else or have someone else present during your treatment. However, you must select a designated person to take you home after your appointment and that the medical staff can be in contact with for 24 hours following your treatment. We advise that your designated person supports you by creating a safe, non-intrusive, and comfortable environment when you get home. Your designated person will be educated regarding your treatment and be provided with contact information for medical staff.

We advise against operating machinery or a motor vehicle until the following day.

A history of schizophrenia, alcohol use disorder, or any other addictions are currently exclusions. Please contact us to discuss further.

You will need to let us know about any medications you are currently taking, in particular:

  • Lamotrigine, (Lamictal), Benzodiazepines, including Xanax (Alprazolam), Ativan (Lorazepam), Valium (Diazepam), and Klonopin (Clonazepam): these decrease the effects of ketamine and may need to be stopped a few days prior and after the treatment.

  • Antidepressants (SSRIs/SNRIs): you may continue taking these during treatments.

At the Ketamine Suite intramuscular ketamine is injected to induce a psychedelic experience that typically lasts about an hour. Ketamine leaves the body fairly quickly and has a half-life of one to three hours, meaning you can expect to go back to your normal activities the next day.

Intravenous ketamine is ideal for anesthesia because it is 100% bioavailable, meaning it is completely absorbed and used in the body. IV ketamine can also be infused slowly over 40 minutes to induce a psychedelic experience that can be beneficial for the treatment of depression and chronic pain.

Intramuscular ketamine is 75 – 93% bioavailable onset of the experience occurs within 2 to 5 minutes and lasts for about an hour.

You will typically return to a normal state of consciousness within an hour and half but it may take several hours for ketamine to completely leave your body. It is recommended that you return home to a calm environment to rest for the remainder of the day.

No. Our doctors cannot provide a prescription for any ketamine that is not used within the confines of our program.

Yes, your doctor does need to fill this out. Referrals are required in BC, and it also helps to keep your doctor “in the loop” with your healthcare.

KAT is more successful when performed within a therapeutic context, and integration strategies are important to the healing process.

Our ketamine-assisted therapy includes a comprehensive aftercare program including a detailed list of lifestyle changes and integration strategies to help support your recovery. Ongoing questions and concerns can be directed to the psychotherapist by appointment.

Restorative yoga and breathwork sessions for your healing.

Join us in class or online.

We support you with guidance on wellness practices that increase the benefits of KAT for your long term healing. Enjoy live yoga, breathwork in clinic and free KAT and wellness resources on Odyssey Online.