Treating PTSD with Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Are you struggling with PTSD symptoms? If so, ketamine infusion therapy may be able to help. Research shows that ketamine can provide relief from depression, anxiety, and other PTSD-related conditions with minimal side effects. Read on to learn more about ketamine treatment, the history, and the benefits and risks of ketamine infusion therapy for those suffering from PTSD. 

What is PTSD?  

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. Common symptoms of PTSD can include flashbacks, intrusive memories, nightmares, avoidance, numbing of emotions, increased anxiety, and hypervigilance. PTSD can be disabling and can affect a person’s life, interpersonal relationships, and overall well-being.  

Learn more about PTSD as well as its symptoms and how its diagnosed. 

Getting help for PTSD is important and can be done in a number of ways. Common treatments can include psychotherapy and medications. However, not everyone finds relief from their PTSD symptoms with those treatments, which is why innovative treatments, such as ketamine infusion therapy, are becoming more popular. 

It is important to note that PTSD treatment is individualized and may vary from person to person. It is also essential to recognize that the recovery process from PTSD can take time, patience, and perseverance. 

What is Ketamine Infusion Therapy?  

Ketamine infusion therapy is a fast-acting, non-invasive treatment option that is used to treat severe symptoms of depression and other mental health disorders. In small doses, the drug provides rapid relief by targeting the brain’s receptors and raising levels of a neurotransmitter called glutamate. In larger doses, ketamine can lead to a state of relaxation, while also reducing the body’s sensitivity to pain. Ketamine therapy has shown promise in helping those suffering from severe symptoms of PTSD and other mental health challenges, including depression, anxiety, post-partum depression, and bipolar disorder.  

Ketamine infusion treatments are administered intravenously in a clinical setting by specially trained professionals. We currently offer treatments through our San Francisco and Oakland clinics. During the therapy session, a patient will receive an infusion of ketamine for 40 minutes and will be supervised for an hour and a half to an hour.  

At Mindful Health Solutions, our initial ketamine infusion therapy consists of six IV ketamine treatments over the course of three weeks. Many patients show rapid improvement after just their first or second infusion. For some, it can take several sessions for desired results to be achieved. If symptoms are successfully controlled with these initial treatments, then follow-up evaluations will be conducted to determine long-term treatment plans. A patient’s provider may recommend maintenance treatments, which usually consist of one infusion every 2-4 weeks. 

With treatments, some patients experience a significant improvement in their overall mental well-being and daily functioning. However, it’s important to note that each patient’s response to ketamine can vary. Consultation with one of our knowledgeable healthcare providers is required before starting treatment. 

History of Using Ketamine for treating PTSD 

Ketamine has been used as a potential treatment for PTSD since the 1970s. However, early research and development of the drug during this time focused more on its anesthetic and analgesic properties. Its antidepressant properties were discovered and further evaluated in the 1990’s when the FDA approved and categorized the drug as an “investigational new drug”. This opened the door for further investigation into using ketamine to treat depression.  

Since then, a multitude of clinical trials has been conducted relating to the use of ketamine in treating PTSD. The results of these trials have been promising and a number of studies have found that ketamine may have a positive effect on PTSD symptoms. The mechanism behind this effect is not well understood. However, one theory is that the drug increases the production of certain neurotransmitters, such as serotonin and dopamine, which are known to play a role in regulating mood and the stress response in the brain.  

More recently, there has been a move towards administering ketamine through IV infusions with the aim of achieving an extended period of relief from PTSD symptoms with fewer potential side effects. This is an encouraging development as it could offer an alternative for those that have been unable to effectively address their PTSD symptoms through other treatments. With further research and development, ketamine infusion therapy could eventually become a viable option for people living with PTSD. 

How Ketamine Treats PTSD 

Ketamine is a medication used as an adjunct treatment for PTSD. It is a non-opioid anesthetic, which works by blocking the activity of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the brain, in the same way as certain antidepressants. By blocking the NMDA receptors, ketamine helps reduce the symptoms of PTSD. These symptoms can include intrusive thoughts, avoidance of situations that bring trauma-related memories, flashbacks, nightmares, and other forms of sensory overload and emotional problems.  

Ketamine also works to reduce inflammation and anxiety, which can contribute to PTSD. The drug has been found to reduce levels of fear and distress and increase serotonin levels in the brain, leading to improved mood and behavior. Additionally, it has been observed to repair the brain’s neural pathways, allowing for better communication amongst neurons. This can help to reduce episodes of intense emotions and panic attacks, which can come with PTSD.  

Research suggests that a single infusion of ketamine can produce long-term changes in the brain that can improve symptoms of PTSD. These effects can last up to two weeks, and multiple infusions of ketamine can result in more lasting improvements. However, ketamine is not a cure-all and must be used in conjunction with psychotherapy and counseling sessions in order to provide the most successful treatment for PTSD. 

Clinical Trials on Ketamine Infusion Therapy for PTSD 

Clinical trials are the gold standard of evidence-based medicine and are invaluable in determining whether treatments are effective or not. The first clinical studies of ketamine for treating PTSD began in the 2000s and examined the effects of single ketamine doses. Patients reported a near-immediate reduction in symptoms, such as deep depression and anxiety, with the relief lasting up to 21 days. Subsequent research extended the length of time that ketamine provided sustained relief up to several weeks for some individuals. 

Recent clinical trials further investigated ketamine as an effective intervention for sufferers of PTSD and demonstrated impressive results. In these studies, patients undergoing ketamine infusion therapy achieved a 60-100% reduction in symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other PTSD-related conditions. Furthermore, ketamine has been found to act as a protective factor against the recurrence of PTSD. These studies have established a strong body of evidence to support ketamine infusion therapy as an effective treatment option for individuals suffering from PTSD.  

As with any medical procedure, there are limitations to the use of ketamine when treating PTSD. Notably, some individuals do not respond to ketamine infusion therapy due to their genetic and physiological makeup. This factor presents practitioners with the additional challenge of determining which individuals are the most suitable candidates for this treatment.

Moreover, there is currently a lack of long-term studies to evaluate the effectiveness of ketamine infusion therapy as an ongoing form of treatment for PTSD. Despite these considerations, the evidence gathered from existing clinical trials suggests that ketamine infusion therapy can provide short-term, lasting relief for those suffering from PTSD. 

Benefits and Risks of Ketamine Infusion Therapy

Ketamine infusion therapy offers the potential to help individuals struggling with PTSD. While the potential benefits of ketamine infusion therapy have been great, there are a number of important risks that need to be taken into account when considering this form of treatment.  

The main benefit of ketamine infusion therapy for those suffering from PTSD is the potential for providing rapid relief from symptoms such as depression and anxiety. Studies have shown that ketamine can alleviate symptoms of PTSD quickly, with minimal side effects. Additionally, ketamine has shown to be effective for those with treatment-resistant PTSD, which is not well-managed by traditional treatments.  

As with any medical treatment, there are also potential risks associated with ketamine infusion therapy. The most common side effects are drowsiness, lightheadedness, dizziness, and nausea. Patients may experience dissociative effects, but they are usually perceived as positive experiences. However, for these reasons, patients are supervised within the clinic for up to two hours after treatment. If a patient has a negative experience during the infusion, there are psychiatric professionals on-site to help. These events are rare and usually resolve completely within 10-15 minutes after stopping the infusion. 

Ketamine infusion therapy has the potential to provide lasting relief from the disabling symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. Through clinical trials, researchers have found that ketamine can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety and potentially lead to long-term remission of PTSD. While there are potential risks associated with ketamine infusion therapy, its benefits for those suffering from PTSD far outweigh any potential dangers. For those looking for a safe, non-invasive treatment option, ketamine infusion therapy is a promising and potentially life-changing form of treatment. Connect with us today and learn if ketamine infusion therapy could work for you. 

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