Joyous vs Mindbloom vs Nue.life vs Spravato vs IV Clinic: A Comparative Analysis
Most patients who find Joyous have suffered from anxiety, depression, PTSD, or overwhelming stress for many years. They’ve tried many different options - SSRIs or other medications, or talk therapy - but have just not found the relief that they deserve. They come to us because we offer a totally different approach - very low dose ketamine that can very quickly and very dramatically transform their mental health.
Ketamine is very, very well-researched. There are decades of data that supports that it’s one of the safer medications out there. In fact, it’s even regularly used in children. In the last few decades, medical science has also found that it’s one of the most effective treatments for anxiety and depression - and especially treatment resistant depression, which is exactly what it sounds like - a form of depression that doesn’t usually respond to treatment, leaving patients desperate and hopeless.
Ketamine can be used in several different ways, like intravenous infusions (IV) straight into the blood stream, or nasal spray, or oral lozenges. That’s what we use at Joyous - little waxy lozenges called troches (pronounced “troe-keys”) that absorb into your mouth.
Because there are so many treatment options, it’s helpful to understand the different options and the benefits of each.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic - that may sound a little scary, so let’s dig into what it means. In high doses, it’s enough to totally knock you out, which is why it’s used in surgeries - that’s the anesthetic part. In slightly lower doses, it can produce a psychedelic, or hallucinogenic, effect. In even lower doses, like the doses Joyous uses, the effects are called psycholytic. This means that a person feels relaxed, expansive, calm, and bigger than their pain. It’s like you can feel pain, but it’s not so overwhelming - that’s the dissociative part - that psychological distance you can get from distressing emotions or sensations.
A brief history of ketamine:
- The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved ketamine for use as anesthesia in 1970. It is exceptionally safe as it does not suppress breathing or heart rate, which can be a danger with other anesthetics.
- Around the same time, doctors first started noticing that surgery patients who received ketamine also reported improvement in their mental health.
- In the 2000s, researchers began to confirm that ketamine quickly relieved depression and suicidal thoughts in a high percentage of study participants.
- Recent studies have highlighted the remarkable effectiveness of ketamine for treatment-resistant depression, PTSD, and anxiety disorders. A groundbreaking study by Yale concluded ketamine “produces rapid (within hours) antidepressant responses in patients who are resistant to typical antidepressants… and reverses the synaptic deficits caused by chronic stress.”
- Ketamine is legal in the U.S. for therapeutic use if you work with a qualified medical practitioner.
How Does Ketamine Relieve Depression and Anxiety Disorders?
Depression, anxiety, and trauma change your brain. They make you more prone to negative thinking, more sensitive to difficult events and environments, and more likely to experience unpleasant feelings in the body. Think of your brain as a gigantic system of roadways. Some roads are like one-laned, slow country roads. Other roads are like superhighways. The more a road is used, the bigger and faster it becomes. What happens with depression, anxiety and trauma is that the roads (that is, neural pathways) involved in negative thinking and emotions become oversized.
And ketamine? It gives your brain the tools to start reworking those roads - building new, positive pathways to replace the old, negative ones. This process is called neuroplasticity, and it’s been showed to be strong in ketamine use.
The reason ketamine is exceptional when it comes to neuroplasticity has to do with how widespread its effects on the brain are. Ketamine works primarily with a set of brain chemical messengers (or neurotransmitters) called glutamate and GABA. You may have heard of a few famous chemical messengers in the brain, like serotonin, or dopamine, or adrenaline. Glutamate and GABA are the two most common neurotransmitter types, and they’re involved in almost all of the brain’s messaging. This means that ketamine can have very widespread effects, and can start working pretty quickly. Compared to more common antidepressants (called serotonin-specific reuptake inhibitors, or SSRIs) that work mostly with serotonin, ketamine has wider effects.
On top of all this, ketamine has far fewer side effects for most people - no sexual side effects, no weight gain, no flattening of mood or experience. And unlike with SSRIs, there’s no discontinuation syndrome, meaning that ketamine can be stopped quickly and doesn’t need to be tapered off for weeks or even months.
How Does Joyous Compare to Other Ketamine Providers?
Here are a few important facts to help you decide between ketamine providers:
Joyous - offers very low-dose ketamine lozenges that patients take at home. The dose is psycholytic and not psychedelic, which means that it’s relaxed and not intense. It can be taken regularly for a steady effect on mood and anxiety, and does not interfere with daily life.
Mindbloom - offers macrodose ketamine lozenges, which patients take at home. A macrodose is a hallucinogenic dose usually taken bi-weekly.
Nue Life - also offers macrodose ketamine lozenges for bi-weekly home use.
Spravato - a macrodose nasal spray administered by health professionals in a clinic bi-weekly.
Clinics - various clinics provide macrodose intravenous infusions administered by health professionals.
Areas of Comparison
Each of the ketamine providers above offers unique, proprietary treatment protocols, which means your experience with ketamine can differ vastly from one to another. The following are some factors to consider.
1. VLD vs. Macrodose
Before deciding which ketamine provider is right for you, ask yourself what your end goal is. Are you looking for a gentle healing journey or an intense psychedelic experience? VLD is psycholytic and not psychedelic, but a higher amount, called a macrodose, delivers a psychedelic experience. While a psychedelic experience can facilitate healing, it is also pretty intense. It is much safer to experience with a trained professional than alone because it’s very possible to become triggered and have what’s known as a “bad trip.”
2. Financial considerations.
In most cases, the cost of ketamine therapy is out-of-pocket, although some providers accept HSA and FSA funds. Some insurance plans will cover Spravato for certain people.
Here are estimated monthly costs you can expect to pay ketamine providers other than Spravato:
- Joyous - $129 per month for daily use lozenge.
- Nue Life - $1399 for six doses or $2999 for 18 doses, lozenge taken bi-weekly.
- Mindbloom - $1158 for a six-dose introductory program, lozenge taken bi-weekly.
- Clinics - $3000 per month for IV infusion. The cost may vary depending on frequency.
It can take a while to get reoriented after a psychedelic experience. Typically, clinics suggest that the patient schedule 4 hours for a psychedelic ketamine session. Unsurprisingly, when considering that you have to get back and forth from the clinic (and can’t drive yourself!) this can mean a need to take time off work, etc.
Joyous VLD dosing takes about 40-60 minutes. It’s not safe to drive in the hour after taking your dose, but otherwise, you can go about your day just as you normally do.
- Joyous - the experience is gentle and non-psychedelic, so the downtime is minimal (less than an hour of feeling minimal effects, and about an hour of not driving but being completely functional).
- Nue Life - suggests having a "sitter" with you throughout and following the experience, as it is psychedelic and can be intense. Requires a medium amount of downtime (3-4 hours) to ensure you are ready to resume normal activities.
- Mindbloom - is also a psychedelic experience, so it requires medium downtime. The company recommends clearing your treatment day of activities and refraining from operating a vehicle or heavy equipment until the following day.
- Spravato - providers warn patients of possible delayed or prolonged sedation. The clinic staff monitors patients for at least two hours after treatment and then requires them to pass a clinical assessment before they leave the clinic. Depending on your reaction, your downtime may be high.
- Clinic IV Infusion - because some infusion side effects can include nausea, dizziness, double-vision, confusion, and sleepiness, your downtime may be high.
Why Choose Joyous Over Other Ketamine Providers?
When you really start to look at it, it’s not at all surprising that ketamine’s been called the greatest psychiatry breakthrough in over 50 years. The research is impressive, and the testimonials from patients are even more impressive. People feel healed from their depression, anxiety, and trauma for the first time in years if not decades.
But there are different approaches to treatment, and that can be confusing and overwhelming. We hope that our summary above, which compares different approaches in terms of effects, convenience and cost, can help you make an informed decision that you can feel good about.
Of course, we think our approach is the best. The Joyous protocol is gentle and steady, and doesn’t have the intensity of psychedelics. It brings you relief from your suffering and new perspectives that promote change. You feel relaxed and spacious, which allows you to experience and process and release your difficult emotions in a totally new way - without being overwhelmed.
And if you’re already in therapy? Including VLD ketamine into your work can really enhance the impact of therapy. This is because you’re less resistant and more open to insight.
A few other aspects of Joyous you may like:
- No sitter necessary - you’re lucid the whole time
- You receive a monthly supply of troche lozenges to take at home
- $129/month is very affordable compared to other options
- Our dosing is precise to your body’s experience
- The downtime is minimal - you can live your daily life
If Joyous sounds right for you, we look forward to meeting you!