Depression Has Met Its Match: An interview With Dr. Avi Schwinder of ReYou Ketamine Treatments

Dr. Avi Schwinder, DNAP CRNA, is the clinical director of ReYou Ketamine Treatments. His breadth of knowledge and his attunement to the art and science of ketamine is what his patients appreciate about him.   

ReYou: Avi, your journey to becoming the clinical director of ReYou Ketamine Treatments is truly unique, with a diverse range of careers, including your experience as a nurse anesthesiologist. How has your background contributed to your role in helping individuals through ketamine therapy?   


Avi: I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to help people in the way that I do. Mental health has always been an interest of mine, whether it be in the context of my personal growth or from hearing my wife’s experiences working in a local therapist’s office. Performing surgical and obstetric anesthesia, I learned a lot about how to attune to people’s needs during vulnerable times. When the opportunity to work at ReYou arose, I was thrilled to apply my years of working with ketamine in a different way and be part of the movement that brings this incredible treatment out of the operating room and into the world of mental health. 


ReYou: How would you explain how ketamine infusions work to someone who has never heard of it?  


Avi: Ketamine infusions allow the brain to relearn thought patterns or behaviors that may no longer be beneficial. As we grow up, we develop certain thought patterns that in essence serve as shortcuts. For example, we don’t have to think about each step when cooking an egg or tying a shoe. Sometimes, thought patterns developed do not serve us well. A person may get used to constantly putting themselves down every time they mess up. They might go into a cycle of ruminating anxious thoughts every time a small issue pops up. Constantly having these thought patterns can put a person in a state of depression or anxiety. Ketamine enables specific brain regions, such as the prefrontal cortex and amygdala, to regain their capacity for change, similar to how they functioned in childhood. During the series of infusions and for some time after, the brain is able to rewire itself to more adaptive thinking patterns.   


ReYou: I’ve heard you discuss the experiential component of ketamine as well, apart from the neurochemical effects. Can you elaborate on that?   

Avi: Absolutely. Ketamine has a strong experiential component that often captivates people’s interest more than the neurochemical effects. Ketamine infusions at ReYou are administered at a much lower dose compared to anesthesia, typically allowing the individual to remain aware of their experience. Ketamine lowers the mental defenses that people develop, enabling them to connect with deep parts of themselves that may otherwise be inaccessible. This facilitates profoundly meaningful experiences, similar to the transformative moments one might have during a connective gathering or an awe-inspiring encounter with nature. These firsthand experiences not only provide self-awareness but also serve as a roadmap towards personal growth. Many individuals entering ketamine therapy have limiting beliefs regarding their sense of safety or capacity for love. When their defenses are lowered, they can see beyond these limitations. Our integration process helps individuals interact with this state and incorporate its positive aspects into their everyday lives. 


ReYou: What are the main concerns that people have about ketamine therapy?   


Avi: One of the primary concerns individuals often have is the fear of change. While the ultimate goal of ketamine therapy is to facilitate positive transformation, it’s natural for individuals to feel apprehensive about embracing change. Many express a desire for change but still want to remain within their familiar comfort zones. This fear of the unknown is something we work through during the treatment process to ensure that individuals can fully benefit from ketamine therapy. 


ReYou: Is there a particular patient story that stands out to you, one that you look back on with pride? 


Avi: Recently, a patient undergoing treatment remarked that she hasn’t felt as good in 20 years. For the first time, she can effortlessly handle her daily responsibilities. While it’s incredibly gratifying to witness immediate improvement in patients, I learn even more from those who initially doubted the effectiveness of ketamine therapy but persisted through the process. These individuals truly show me the importance of perseverance and patience for self-growth. 


ReYou: Where do you see this treatment heading in the future? 


Avi: Ketamine for mental health has been researched for nearly two decades, and over time has shown itself to be a groundbreaking treatment. I firmly believe that it will continue to become a more mainstream and a first-line treatment option. As the use of ketamine continues to expand, the narrative surrounding mental health will shift, and more individuals will recognize the potential for improvement and recovery. I am excited to witness this positive change and contribute to the advancement of mental health care. 

For more information about ketamine treatments, you can find us at: 

Office Phone: (732) 243-8657 


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