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Apr
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2024
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Area resident Mischa Dansby opened up Monarch Wellness Solutions at 100 Corry St., a private health clinic offering psychedelic therapy through the usage of ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic. (Photo by Cheryl Durgans)

Monarch Wellness Solutions offers ketamine-assisted therapy

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This August, therapist and nurse practitioner Mischa Dansby opened her practice, Monarch Wellness Solutions, at 100 Corry Street in Yellow Springs.

Through the practice, Dansby offers traditional therapy services and wellness coaching, in addition to  ketamine-assisted therapy — a legal psychedelic therapy that Dansby said has been proven to help people with certain mental health disorders.

A retired United States Air Force colonel with almost 28 years of healthcare experience, including a specialty in women’s health, she first discovered psychedelic therapy outside of the military in 2018, while researching alternative mental health treatments for her patients.

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“I was introduced to psychedelics through a podcast,” said Dansby, who was still on active duty at the time. “Then I was like, ‘What is this thing?’ Because in the military, it is a very controlled environment. Nobody’s doing anything cutting edge. We’re not even talking about cannabis.”

Originally an animal anesthesia, ketamine was FDA approved for human use — particularly to anesthetize soldiers on the battlefields of Vietnam — in the 1970s. Emergency responders began using it to calm patients experiencing agitation on ambulance trips to the hospital, but it has a wider reputation as being a “club drug” called “Special K.” In that context the drug, in tablet form, is sometimes ground up and inhaled, giving users a “trip” that is associated with euphoria.

Now, ketamine is gaining traction as an available treatment option in mental health settings, where it is prescribed by practitioners, as numerous medical studies have pointed to ketamine’s ability to greatly relieve anxiety and depression.

Encouraged by the results reported in academic studies she’d read, and with support from friends outside the military, Dansby obtained certification in psychedelic therapy from the University of Cincinnati.

“Ketamine is very safe. It’s been researched, we’ve been using it for decades,” she said. “It’s been used as an anesthetic. People who’ve had any type of procedures done — gone to the emergency room for a broken bone, had surgery — they’ve probably already had ketamine, but at anesthetic levels. The ketamine that you get through [psychedelic therapy] is at a sub-anesthetic level.”

Dansby said she originally began looking for treatment alternatives because of the medical conditions she was seeing on a daily basis, and her own real-life experiences with loved ones, no matter where she was stationed in the world.

“[Patients] were seeing me for physical reasons, but there was always a mental health component,” she said. “It was something either undiagnosed, something they were unaware of, or just poorly treated for.”

Dansby also found that people she treated, or who were close to her with mental health conditions, were not improving through traditional mental health treatments.

“Those same people in my life had been on multiple typical pharmaceuticals for many, many years, suffered side effects and were honestly not improving. The quality of their life didn’t improve, and they were still struggling,” Dansby said.

Since the 1950s, the model for treatment for mental health disorders has been a line of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs, and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, or SNRIs.

“A specific approach which has been beneficial for a small group of people. But again, the people I was around, they were not getting any better, and again, suffering those side effects,” she said.

At Monarch, Dansby prioritizes offering a safe environment for assessment and treatment, though many of her patients self-administer ketamine at home. Dansby determines if people seeking ketamine treatment  meet the criteria — a clinical diagnosis of anxiety and/or depression, being 18 or older, “not pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.”

Ketamine stimulates the heart, so Dansby also monitors blood pressure, though high blood pressure doesn’t preclude treatment as long as it is controlled, she said.

“I know your heart rate is going to increase a little bit as well as your blood pressure. But I provide blood pressure monitors for you to use at home,” she said.

According to Dansby, six treatments have been “clinically shown to improve anxiety and depression symptoms.”

“There are contraindications to treatment. I need to make sure that this is a safe option for you. After I do just a review of body systems, do an intake — some people will require me to discuss with their current therapist or medical team. Again, making sure this is a safe option because people are going to do this at home,” she said.

The ketamine Dansby administers comes in tablet form, which is intended to dissolve in the mouth, but not to be swallowed — which she said differs from how other practitioners tend to administer the substance. She has her patients hold the dose in their mouths for seven minutes before spitting it out. Swallowing ketamine can cause side effects like nausea, vomiting, disorientation and mental confusion.

“And that can last for about four to six hours,” she said.

For this reason, Dansby requires people receiving home treatments to have another adult with them while self-administering ketamine.

“Just to create that safety space for them, [patients] have to have an adult,” she said. “If somebody does swallow [the ketamine instead of allowing it to dissolve], the individual is uncomfortable for quite some time, but the person who is watching them go through this is very uncomfortable as well, because it’s hard to watch.”

Because people are not supposed to swallow the tablet, Dansby uses a higher dose, which is a time-release process that also mitigates side effects.

“Other ketamine providers use a lower dose, but [their clients] swallow, so that’s the difference. I really hammer that home, because I do have people who transfer to me from other practices that were swallowing,” Dansby said.

Dansby said treatment can still be administered even if it’s determined that a patient’s home may not be an option.

“I’ll refer them to an inpatient place where they can go and have infusions in person so that they can be monitored,” she said.

Dansby was born in Germany, “the product of a military couple,” but grew up in nearby Huber Heights. She went directly into the military after graduating from Wright State in 1994 — which she said is “very different from most military kids, because typically, you’re moving every two to four years.”

“I had a unique opportunity to be stable in a community, and that’s where I really grew to appreciate the value of connection and community,” she said.

According to Dansby, Yellow Springs was a fun place to visit growing up.

“On the weekend, if there was an art fair or something like that — my parents actually had a very dear friend that worked with them at the base — and we would come out here and visit her all the time. She had one of those mid-century modern houses with the big windows and the trees. It was always so beautiful and peaceful, and I just have beautiful memories of spending time here as a child,” Dansby said.

As Dansby was near retirement from the military while stationed in Japan, the military needed to transfer her — the last stop on the road to retirement.

“I’d never been stationed at Wright-Patt, even though this is where I’m from. And an opportunity was here for an opening at the base. And I thought, ‘Wow, there’s nowhere else I want to live in Ohio, other than Yellow Springs,’” Dansby said.

For information about therapy services at  Monarch Wellness Solutions, go to http://www.monarchwellnesssolutions.com.

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5 Responses to “Monarch Wellness Solutions offers ketamine-assisted therapy”

  1. Anonymous says:

    It looks like the Matthew Perry debacle is creating a shitstorm for the esketamine industry. Some questions I hope you can address in a follow up are these:

    Is the treatment recommended for alcohol/drug addicts who are still using? (Any qualified counselor knows that people often lie about their usage because that just goes along with the condition, so I would imagine testing would benefit honesty)

    Is it recommended for those in recovery who are not actively engaged in therapy for depression and/or addiction?

    Have all other Rx treatments failed, AND have healthier alternatives been offered, tried, and excluded? These would include dietary changes and/or supplements; progressive relaxation techniques; guided imagery; meditation; hobby therapies such as music, art, horseback riding, pet therapy or any activity that can create a natural euphoria, even exercise or dancing?

    Is any self-induced, non chemical “Dissociative” technique available such as hypnosis an option?

    Is the effectiveness of K therapy simply from a dissociative state or is their a “euphoria” involved and would that feeling itself be dangerous for recovering individuals?

    These are some questions and I probably will think of others. Depression certainly needs to have ALL angles considered for the well being of the patient.

    The dissociative state K is said to produce, itself, is interesting because there are many individuals who dissociate naturally on their own. Many times dissociation is a learned method of coping from childhood trauma. Therapists haven’t always viewed it as beneficial because it can result in dissociative disorders. Perhaps there are more studies needed.

    Thank you for your timely article and please consider a follow up! Merry Christmas!

  2. Shantey Fabreise Stonekart says:

    I think it bares cautioning when calling any treatment a ‘success.’ Any treatment has idiosyncratic variables to take into consideration. No treatment produces the exact same experience for any person because each individual is unique and comes to the table to “try” something without guaranteed results. If dispensers of ketamine therapy want to “guarantee” treatment, beyond any doubt, they can safely say it is used “successfully;” otherwise, all anyone can truthfully declare is it is a method that has apparently worked for “some people” for the treatment of depression.

    Matthew Perry, may he rest in peace, is possibly no longer depressed. (There are no guarantees)

  3. Georgia Lindsey says:

    Nasal ketamine (spravata) is used successfully for treatment resistant depression. IV ketamine is used successfully for intractable pain management. Ketamine has provided relief from pain and depression where no other medications have. Clients are usually monitored closely after the treatments. I am relatively certain that Matthew Perry did not use ketamine in the recommended manner.

  4. Esmerelda Smittendorf says:

    On the side of caution and as a public service announcement I’d just like to mention: Matthew Perry autopsy revealed he died from the acute effects of Ketamine.

  5. Barbara says:

    I’ve never understood why anyone would willingly want to hallucinate via psychedelic drugs. I’m not condemning the therapy if it works for someone, but I just don’t understand it. Hallucinations are sometimes a side effect of some medications given for surgery or even (adverse) effects of other meds for susceptible people. I’ve experienced that myself and I cannot honestly say it was ‘mind expanding.’ But, I have discovered that maintained sobriety is very enlightening after having spent much of my life in a alcohol fog, I often look around amazed at all the nuisances of meaningfulness and wonder that I missed. <14 Love & Peace

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