Ketamine is a psychoactive drug approved by the FDA as an anesthetic but holds promise for treating a variety of mental health disorders including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
What is PTSD?
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mental health disorder that occurs after a person goes through a traumatic experience. PTSD is especially common with those who have been involved in wartime combat, in car accidents, in natural disasters, or have been sexually abused or assaulted. A vast majority of the population experiences at least one traumatic life event, but not every person develops PTSD. When a person has several of the following symptoms for a month or longer, a mental health professional might diagnose them with PTSD:
- Repression of thoughts and memories
- Feelings of shame, despair, and depression
How is PTSD Currently Treated?
Mental health professionals often currently take a two-pronged approach towards treating PTSD. Psychotherapy treatment includes Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), which focuses on a person’s thoughts and feelings about a trauma, and Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). Many psychiatrists also include prescription medication as part of PTSD treatment. Currently doctors prescribe SSRI antidepressants such as Paxil and Zoloft, Prazosin which helps with nightmares, and antipsychotics. Antidepressants haven’t been exceptionally successful in treating PTSD without psychotherapy and they take weeks before noticeable change may occur. Additionally, they may come with various side effects, such as diabetes and high cholesterol.
How Does Ketamine Work to Treat PTSD?
Medical professionals treat PTSD patients with low-dose ketamine infusion therapy with alarming success and minimal to no side effects. Ketamine works much faster than oral antidepressants; patients who are going to respond favorably experience a noticeable reduction in symptoms in as little as a few days, and sometimes in a few hours. If a PTSD patient is responsive to intravenous Ketamine treatments, they will have a series of six treatments over a two to three-week time span.
PTSD is a life-altering disorder, whose victims haven’t had much success with treatment, especially prescription medication. Ketamine shows promise of a quick and effective treatment that avoids the difficult side effects of other medications.