The traditional treatments for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are short-term psychotherapies. However, these methodologies often fail to provide relief for the eight million American adults who suffer from PTSD, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Thankfully, new studies examining the benefits of ketamine for PTSD are finding positive results in long-term management.
At Ahwatukee Ketamine Clinic in Phoenix, AZ and Scottsdale Ketamine Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, we carefully follow all of the newest research in treatments to provide our patients with the relief they deserve. As repeated studies show that PTSD symptoms improve significantly through ketamine infusion therapy, we’re at the forefront of offering this breakthrough treatment.
What Is PTSD?
When a patient experiences a traumatic event, such as violence, a natural disaster, or a car accident, they can suffer from flashbacks, nightmares, or intrusive thoughts that force them to re-experience the trauma long after the threats are over.
Patients experiencing PTSD will have symptoms for at least one month after a traumatic event. There are three different types of PTSD symptoms, including:
- Re-experiencing the trauma through flashbacks, nightmares, and intrusive thoughts
- Emotional numbness and avoidance of reminders of the trauma
- Chronic agitation, irritability, heightened arousal, and difficulty sleeping
To obtain a diagnosis of PTSD, a patient must have experienced or witnessed trauma in some way and experience symptoms that fall into the three categories listed above.
What Are Traditional PTSD Treatments?
The primary PTSD treatment methodology is short-term psychotherapies centering on cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). These PTSD treatments center on the trauma experienced and work to understand and identify patients’ thinking and behavior patterns around the trauma.
Once the patient and their mental health professional understand those patterns, they can work to change them through weekly counseling and active patient engagement and skill development. Most CBT treatments last three to four months.
Other traditional PTSD treatments include eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), present-centered therapy (PCT), and medications like antidepressants and benzodiazepines.
What Are Ketamine PTSD Treatments?
Ketamine has a 50-year history as a safe and effective anesthetic and pain reliever most often used as part of general anesthesia for medical procedures. In the last 20 years, ketamine has emerged as an effective medication for treating depression and other mood disorders.
Ketamine’s usefulness in treating PTSD first emerged in the 1990s during the Gulf War.
Physicians noticed that soldiers injured in battle who were given ketamine as a surgical anesthetic were much less likely to develop PTSD. In contrast, soldiers who were given other types of anesthesia developed PTSD at an expected rate.
Ketamine for PTSD uses lower doses of the anesthetic to reduce depression and anxiety in patients who suffer the debilitating effects of PTSD, typically delivered via ketamine infusion therapy.
As studies continue to confirm ketamine’s effectiveness in treating depression, its competence as a mood-boosting drug has led researchers to explore ketamine PTSD treatments to find further benefits, with positive results.
How Do Ketamine PTSD Treatments Work?
Ketamine works differently than most antidepressants, so it’s a recommended treatment option for patients whose condition is considered “treatment-resistant.”
Most antidepressants are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which increase the amount of serotonin in the brain. However, ketamine targets and blocks NMDA-glutamate receptors in the brain.
Glutamate is a chemical messenger, or neurotransmitter, that can affect many nervous system regions. When glutamate is overactive, patients may have depressive symptoms. Since ketamine blocks overactive glutamate, the neurotransmitter’s balance is restored.
Ketamine may also regenerate neurological connections, or synapses, in the brain. Since chronic stress associated with anxiety and depression can damage those synapses, the increased production can reverse those effects and restore neural pathways.
Is Ketamine a Proven Treatment for PTSD?
Several studies examining the benefits of ketamine PTSD treatments show very positive results.
For example, in the first study that examined ketamine treatments for PTSD published in JAMA Psychiatry, patients saw a significant and rapid reduction in symptoms. Symptoms reduced within 24 hours of treatment, and those benefits lasted even after ketamine left patients’ systems.
In a further study from the Journal of Clinical Psychology that looked at ketamine treatments and their effects on suicidal ideation, patients receiving ketamine infusion therapy reported decreased suicidal thoughts within 40 minutes of treatment.
That benefit persisted for four hours, offering mental health providers a treatment window for counseling and developing a long-term plan. In a further study from the same publication, patients who underwent repeated ketamine infusion therapy treatments saw decreased suicidal thoughts that lasted up to three months.
In January of 2021, another study reported in the American Journal of Psychiatry showed that patients undergoing repeated ketamine infusion therapy treatments saw a significant reduction in PTSD symptom severity.
Beyond the rapid reduction in symptoms that begins within 24 hours, patients saw the benefits of a series of ketamine infusion therapy treatments that can last for around 28 days.
Additionally, the decrease in symptoms that patients saw after a treatment covered a wide range of improvements, including a reduction in intrusive thoughts, less need to avoid triggering situations, and enhanced mood and cognition.
In addition to the effects that ketamine treatments have on brain function, patients may also use the infusions in conjunction with CBT techniques. During ketamine infusions, the drug may cause a dissociative state. Patients in that state who recall their trauma may find new peace as they relive their experience without the emotional impact.
Discover if Ketamine Is the Right PTSD Treatment for You
At Ahwatukee Ketamine Clinic in Phoenix, AZ and Scottsdale Ketamine Clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, we provide patients with ketamine infusion therapy to target debilitating mental health conditions, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Don’t suffer unnecessarily. Ketamine can offer results even when patients feel they’ve explored all options. Reach out to us by phone or online today, and start the road to recovery.