Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that causes severe, long-lasting symptoms that can have a tremendous impact on someone’s ability to function in everyday life. It can develop after a person has experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, such as a car accident, physical or sexual abuse, or a natural disaster.
Common symptoms include intrusive thoughts, flashbacks, and nightmares about the trauma, avoidance of reminders of the traumatic event, emotional numbness or detachment, increased anxiety and irritability, and extreme physical reactions, including panic attacks.
Many people with PTSD turn to traditional treatments like talk therapy and medication for help managing their symptoms. However, while often effective for some people, these treatments may not provide adequate relief for everyone. And in some cases, they don’t provide any relief at all.
Fortunately, ketamine infusion therapy is a ground-breaking alternative treatment for PTSD that many people have found to be beneficial. Ketamine is a medication traditionally used as an anesthetic in surgery and pain management, but recent research has shown that it can also be used to help reduce symptoms of PTSD, depression, OCD, and some anxiety disorders.
Ketamine Infusion Therapy For PTSD: How It Works
Although it’s not entirely clear exactly how ketamine works for PTSD, it is thought to help manage PTSD symptoms by altering the way that certain brain chemicals and pathways function. In particular, ketamine is believed to affect the levels of a neurotransmitter called glutamate in the brain by modulating the activity of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors – one of the main glutamate receptors in the brain.
Glutamate is involved in the consolidation of memories, and it is thought that by influencing glutamatergic neurotransmission, ketamine can help to reduce traumatic memories. This could lead to a reduction in PTSD symptoms like flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, and emotional disturbances, and make it easier for people with the condition to cope with their experiences.
Ketamine is also thought to influence other neurotransmitters like serotonin which are involved in the regulation of mood and could trigger synaptic plasticity – the process of forming new connections in the brain. This could help to modify negative thought patterns, alleviate mood, and provide a more positive outlook for people with PTSD.
Ultimately, ketamine infusion therapy is a relatively new treatment with a suspected broad mechanism of action, so further research is needed to gain a better understanding of how it works and its long-term effects.
What to Expect During Ketamine Infusion Therapy
Ketamine infusion therapy for PTSD is typically administered in a controlled medical setting, such as a hospital or clinic by a licensed provider. The process usually involves intravenous (IV) infusion of low-dose ketamine over the course of 40 minutes to 1 hour.
During this time, you will be awake and aware of your surroundings, but you may experience some disorientation and mild hallucinations. You will be closely monitored by a doctor or qualified nurse during the treatment session and immediately after to ensure safety.
Although there is no definitive timeline for how long it takes for ketamine infusion therapy to take effect, it can start working within hours of the first infusions, after a few days, or after a few treatment sessions.
A full course of treatment typically involves multiple infusions – ranging from 6 to 12 treatment sessions spread over 2-3 weeks. Your healthcare provider will work with you to determine the best course of treatment based on your needs and goals. Maintenance treatments may also be necessary thereafter to maintain remission.
The Bottom Line
Overall, ketamine infusion therapy is a revolutionary treatment that offers a reprieve for people with PTSD who have not found relief with traditional medications. It is a promising treatment that has the potential to provide rapid and sustained relief from PTSD symptoms without the long-term adverse effects associated with many traditional medications used in PTSD treatment.