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ketamine for anxiety

Ketamine for Anxiety, Ketamine Infusions, Benefits, Risk Factors & Co-Occurring Disorders

What Is Ketamine? Ketamine For Anxiety

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic agent used in medical procedures as well as for the treatment of severe acute and chronic pain. Ketamine was first synthesized in the 1960s and began being used in medical settings as a dissociative anesthetic agent shortly thereafter. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved it in 1970. It continues to be used as an anesthetic induction agent and procedural sedative for children and adults and, even more commonly, in veterinary medicine.

Ketamine’s utility, however, has expanded beyond its FDA-approved use as an anesthetic. It is sometimes prescribed for moderate to severe acute and chronic pain, and it is increasingly used as an antidepressant in patients who have not responded to other forms of treatment.

While pharmaceutical ketamine is administered as an injectable solution, illicitly produced ketamine is often encountered as a powder or a liquid. In recreational use, the powder is cut into lines and snorted or smoked—either alone or in combination with marijuana or tobacco. Liquid ketamine may be injected or mixed into drinks. Ketamine purchased illegally is often cut with other drugs, including methamphetamine, amphetamine, Ecstasy (MDMA), and cocaine.

ketamine for anxiety
For a person with an Anxiety disorder, the Anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time; it’s important to get an Anxiety Treatment as soon as possible.

Depending on the specific route of ingestion, the effects of the drug may be felt within a couple of minutes. The user may have distortions in sight or sound, and feel disconnected from reality. Hallucinations are expected under the influence of the drug and may last 30 minutes to 60 minutes. Users may also feel detached from their body, an experience referred to as being in the “k-hole.”

Other effects include agitation, depression, trouble thinking, amnesia, and loss of consciousness. Users may become unresponsive to outside stimuli and experience involuntary rapid eye movements, dilated pupils, salivation, tearing, and muscle stiffness.

Understanding Anxiety

According to The National Institute on Mental Health, occasional Anxiety is an expected part of life. You might feel anxious when faced with a problem at work, before taking a test, or before making an important decision. But Anxiety disorders involve more than temporary worry or fear.

For a person with an Anxiety disorder, the Anxiety does not go away and can worsen over time; it’s important to get an Anxiety Treatment as soon as possible. The symptoms can interfere with daily activities such as job performance, school work, and relationships. There are several types of Anxiety disorders, including generalized Anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and various phobia-related disorders.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

People with a generalized Anxiety disorder (GAD) display excessive anxiety or worry, most days for at least 6 months, about many things such as personal health, work, social interactions, and everyday routine life circumstances. Fear and Anxiety can cause significant problems in areas of their life, such as social interactions, school, and work.

Generalized anxiety disorder symptoms include:

  • Feeling restless, wound-up, or on-edge
  • Being easily fatigued
  • Having difficulty concentrating; mind going blank
  • Being irritable
  • Having muscle tension
  • Difficulty controlling feelings of worry
  • Having sleep problems, such as difficulty falling or staying asleep, restlessness, or unsatisfying sleep

What is Ketamine for Anxiety?

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 prominent and distressing symptoms. 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.  

Does Ketamine Work for Anxiety?

Ketamine has been studied and shown to be effective in an array of anxiety disorders, including SAD, general anxiety disorder (GAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder PTSD.

  • A small study of patients with GAD and/or SAD (n=12) compared 3 ascending ketamine doses to midazolam. Each was given at 1-week intervals, with midazolam counterbalanced in dosing position across patients. Ketamine was found to dose-dependently improve scores on the Fear Questionnaire. Moreover, its impact on decreasing theta frequency in the right frontal sites assessed via electroencephalogram (EEG) was comparable to that of conventional anxiolytics.
  • Glue et al evaluated the efficacy and safety of ketamine in 12 patients with refractory GAD and/or SAD who were not currently depressed using an ascending single-dose at weekly intervals study design. Within 1 hour of dosing, patients reported reduced anxiety, which persisted for up to 7 days.
ketamine for anxiety
Ketamine has been studied and shown to be effective in an array of anxiety disorders.
  • A continuation of that study evaluated the impact of maintenance treatment ketamine in patients with GAD and/or SAD (n=20) and found that 18 of the 20 patients reported ongoing improvements in social functioning and/or work functioning during maintenance treatment. The researchers concluded that maintenance therapy ”may be a therapeutic alternative for patients with treatment-refractory GAD/SAD.”

What is interesting about this study is that the impact of just one infusion lasted for 14 weeks, suggesting that patients with anxiety disorders might have longer maintenance of response than patients with major depression, where the response has been maintained for only one week.

Ketamine for Anxious Depression

“A study of patients with anxious and non-anxious bipolar depression (n=21 for both groups) found that both anxious and non-anxious patients with bipolar depression had significant antidepressant responses to ketamine, although the anxious depressed group did not show a clear antidepressant response disadvantage over the non-anxious group. Given that anxiety has been shown to be a predictor of poor treatment response in bipolar depression when traditional treatments are used, our findings suggest the need for further investigations into ketamine’s novel role in the treatment of anxious bipolar depression.,” the investigators concluded.

Ketamine Treatment for Anxiety

Ketamine is a complicated drug when it comes to pharmacodynamics or how it works in the brain. Ketamine doesn’t just affect one type of chemical or receptor in the brain; it works in multiple areas of the brain. For that reason, it’s very complex, and it can have a wide variety of effects. One of the most significant ways ketamine affects the brain is by working with a chemical called glutamate. Glutamate is one of the essential chemicals in your brain because it facilitates communication between nerve cells, which is how your brain functions. 

In high doses, ketamine can block glutamate all over the brain, which slows down nervous system communications. This is why ketamine is useful as a sedative. When your brain’s communication networks start to slow down, you feel sedated or fall asleep. However, ketamine’s effects on glutamate seem to be dose-dependent, which means the amount of the drug you take can change certain effects. In low doses, ketamine can increase glutamate levels, which facilitates more communications between neurons. This can cause many different effects and side effects. 

One of the effects may be to help alleviate problems that are caused by poor communication between neurons. Depression may be one of those problems. Chronic stress and mood disorders like depression can cause you to lose certain neural connections. This may be why people with depression lose interest in activities, isolate themselves, and become more apathetic about the world around them. However, ketamine may increase communication and help people with depression recover those lost connections. 

However, increased glutamate may also contribute to dissociative symptoms, hallucinations, and psychosis. While the use of ketamine to treat anxiety and depression seems promising, it may also come with some uncomfortable and disturbing side effects. 

What are Ketamine Infusions Like?

Ketamine infusion therapy is an off-label use of ketamine to treat mental health problems like depression. Infusion refers to the fact that ketamine is administered in an intravenous solution rather than a pill. Infusion therapy began in the United States before there was FDA approval for drugs like ketamine. While ketamine infusion therapy was legal since the drug was FDA-approved for use as an anesthetic, its off-label use to treat depression was not usually covered by insurance. 

Ketamine infusion therapy lowers improved depression symptoms after four hours and peaks around 24 hours. However, the effects may begin to wear off after seven days. Patients may need to return for therapy after ten days to two weeks. While a single infusion produces longer-lasting effects than a single dose of a traditional antidepressant, infusion requires outpatient visits to a clinic with each dose. For that reason, infusion therapy is similar to maintenance programs. FDA-approved ketamine, sold as Spravato, offers home treatment options.

Ketamine infusion is also used to treat chronic pain symptoms. Ketamine is used in hospital settings among people with pain that is difficult to treat with traditional methods. It may be used alongside morphine or other opioids, but it may also be used on its own. 

Benefits of Ketamine Infusion Therapy for Anxiety

1. Achieve symptom relief in hours, not weeks

Research shows that a single therapeutic dose of IV ketamine produced an antidepressant and anti-suicidal effect in 4.5 hours for people that had not found success with traditional medications. These effects were still present 24 hours later, with 40% of participants reporting continued benefits seven days post-infusion—a huge improvement over SSRIs, which take weeks to produce a therapeutic effect. 

2. Tap into disordered thinking/behavior patterns

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, meaning that it can put users into a mild, trance-like state that makes them feel detached from their physical body, which sounds much scarier than it is. Many patients describe the sensation as relaxing and not as psychedelic as you may assume, but the physical effects of dissociation are only scratching the surface. This dissociative state allows patients to disconnect from their physical selves and become more in tune with their emotions and memories, which helps people understand and confront the origin of their symptoms.

ketamine for anxiety
Ketamine is a proven method for those who haven’t experienced relief through traditional medications. Up to 30% of patients diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may be resistant to traditional treatments, such as SSRIs.

3. Stop taking medications that don’t work for you

Up to 30% of patients diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may be resistant to traditional treatments, such as SSRIs, which is a lot when you consider there are more than 40 million adults experiencing anxiety in the United States alone. Ketamine, on the other hand, is a proven method for those who haven’t experienced relief through traditional medications.

Reclaim Your Life From Anxiety and Addiction, Co-Occurring Disorders

When a person is diagnosed with both a mental illness and a substance use disorder, they are said to have co-occurring disorders. Though the disorders can exist separately from one another, when they coexist in the same person, they usually cause the symptoms of both disorders to be amplified. It is common for a person with co-occurring disorders to have more severe symptoms than a person with only one of the disorders.

A co-occurring disorder is defined by the dual diagnosis of a mental health disorder and a substance use disorder in the same person. We Level Up treatment rehab & detox center can provide you, or someone you love, treatment for co-ourring disorders with professional and safe care. Feel free to call us to speak with one of our counselors. We can inform you about this condition by giving you relevant information. Our specialists know what you are going through. Please know that each call is private and confidential.