Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health concerns in the United States. People of all ages suffer from a wide range of debilitating anxiety disorders, including phobias, panic disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health issues involving anxiety as a prominent and distressing symptom. Anxiety disorders are treatable. In many cases, a combination of medication and psychotherapy can help alleviate the associated symptoms. Unfortunately, 30-40% of people with anxiety are unable to find relief through standard therapeutic approaches, even after trying several different types of treatment.
Fortunately, treatment for anxiety and other mental health issues continues to evolve, and sometimes off-label medications and treatments have positive outcomes. Ketamine treatment is one such example. Although originally FDA-approved as an anesthetic, Ketamine is increasingly being used to help manage the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression. More recently, Ketamine has also shown promise in the treatment of anxiety.
What is Ketamine?
Today, ketamine is commonly known as a street drug with hallucinatory effects, but it was originally used as a rapid-acting intravenous anesthetic drug in the 1960s and has been used off-label in the treatment of depression since the 1990s. Unlike standard depression treatments, which focus on increasing brain chemicals to improve the patient’s mood, ketamine repairs neuron synapses and increases the level of glutamate in the brain, resulting in a more rapid improvement than with antidepressants.
Depression and anxiety often go hand in hand, and one reason for this may be that both disorders involve abnormalities in the glutamate system. Ketamine and other drugs that alter the glutamate and GABA (Gamma-aminobutyric acid) systems have been the subject of continued study in the treatment of both anxiety and depression—and Ketamine has proven effective in many cases.
- One double-blind study demonstrated that infusion of ketamine rapidly and significantly reduces symptom severity in patients with PTSD.
- Another randomized controlled trial (RCT) of 15 patients with OCD found that anti-OCD effects from a single intravenous dose of ketamine persisted for more than 1 week in some patients with OCD with constant intrusive thoughts.
- A study of patients with anxious and non-anxious bipolar depression found that both anxious and non-anxious patients with bipolar depression had significant antidepressant responses to ketamine.
Scientists are still working to figure out exactly how ketamine reduces anxiety and depression, but what they do know is that while antidepressants take weeks to alleviate symptoms, ketamine begins to work immediately, and provides long-term symptom relief as well.
What is Ketamine IV therapy?
Ketamine IV therapy involves a carefully dosed infusion of ketamine in a healthcare facility. Typically patients receive three treatments in the first week, two in the second week, and then one a week for three weeks. Ketamine IV therapy takes approximately 90 minutes each visit, and includes a period of observation before the patient is sent home. While traditional antidepressants can take weeks to show results, ketamine symptom relief begins within a few hours of treatment. Some people find that ketamine therapy is enough to relieve their symptoms altogether, while others find that it works best in combination with other medications and treatments. For those who have tried and failed to find relief through other treatment methods, ketamine has the potential to help manage their symptoms and significantly boost their quality of life.
Suffering from an anxiety disorder? Treatment is available.
Whether you’re just starting out on your search for relief from symptoms of anxiety, or you’ve tried other treatments that just haven’t worked, Pacific Health Systems can help. We provide high-quality, cost-effective mental health and chemical dependency services in San Diego. Our compassionate providers specialize in Primary Care, Psychiatry Services, Psychology Services, Advanced Depression Treatments, and Non-Opiate Pain Treatment. We’re committed to providing each patient with a customized treatment plan designed to help them live a healthy, happy, and productive life. For more information about our services, or to schedule an appointment with one of our providers, give us a call at (619) 267-9257 today.