What is Anxiety?
Anxiety is a natural human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. It is characterized by feelings of worry, fear, or unease about potential future events or situations. Occasional anxiety can be a normal response to stress or uncertainty. It can even serve as a useful mechanism for alerting us to potential threats or challenges.
However, when anxiety becomes excessive, persistent, or overwhelming, it may be classified as an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health conditions that go beyond normal levels of anxiety and can interfere with a person's daily life, relationships, and overall well-being.
Common symptoms of anxiety can include:
- Excessive worrying about everyday situations or events.
- Feeling restless, on edge, or keyed up.
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing.
- Physical symptoms such as increased heart rate, sweating, trembling, or muscle tension.
- Avoidance of certain places or situations due to fear of triggering anxiety.
- Sleep disturbances, including difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep.
Anxiety disorders encompass various types, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, specific phobias, and more. The severity and specific symptoms may vary depending on the type of anxiety disorder a person experiences. Over 40 million adults in the US suffer from anxiety. Unfortunately, only around a third will receive treatment.
It's essential to recognize that anxiety disorders are treatable, and there are various effective therapies and interventions available, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), medication, mindfulness techniques, and lifestyle changes. There is no single treatment that is right for everyone.
How Does Ketamine Work to Treat Anxiety?
Anxiety disorders affect millions of people worldwide. Often times, impacting their daily lives, relationships, and overall well-being. Traditionally, anxiety has been treated with therapies, medications, and lifestyle changes. However, in recent years, a new player has emerged on the medical scene: ketamine. Known primarily as an anesthetic and party drug, ketamine's potential to alleviate anxiety has generated considerable interest among researchers and healthcare professionals.
Ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, was initially developed in the 1960s and has been widely used in medical settings for its analgesic and anesthetic properties. However, in the early 2000s, researchers discovered its rapid antidepressant effects, leading to a surge in studies exploring its potential for treating other mental health conditions, including anxiety disorders.
Ketamine's primary mechanism of action lies in its interaction with the NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors in the brain. By binding to these receptors, ketamine inhibits their function, resulting in a transient disruption of neural pathways. This process is thought to facilitate neuroplasticity, enabling the brain to rewire itself and form new connections. This mechanism is different from traditional antidepressants or antianxiety medications, which mainly target serotonin, norepinephrine, or dopamine receptors.
One of the most significant advantages of ketamine in anxiety treatment is its rapid onset of action. While conventional medications may take weeks to produce noticeable effects, ketamine has been shown to alleviate symptoms in a matter of hours or days. This quick response can be particularly beneficial for individuals experiencing severe anxiety or those who have not responded well to other treatments.
Ketamine's effects on anxiety are not merely short-lived. Studies have shown that ketamine's positive effects can last for several days to weeks after a single dose. This prolonged effect has the potential to provide sustained relief. Thus, improving a person's quality of life and potentially reducing the frequency of treatment sessions.
Treatment Plan for Anxiety
For over two decades the most common protocol used to treat mood disorders such as depression and anxiety in the setting of a ketamine clinic involves a primary series of six infusions. Research has shown that although one infusion can provide rapid relief, the benefits generally wear off quickly and for some the effects are very subtle. Using a series of infusions allows the ketamine to have a greater and longer lasting effect in the brain resulting in sustained relief.
It is important to bear in mind that the theory of how ketamine works in the brain described above is a process that takes time, and one infusion will not erase years of struggling with anxiety. It is also important to know that ketamine provides life-changing benefits for many patients, but it is not considered a cure and will almost certainly require ongoing maintenance infusions. The frequency can be variable from several weeks to several months in between treatments.
It is recommended to complete at least three infusions prior to deciding if the treatment is working for you. Most patients will be able to identify a clear benefit after the third infusion. If after three infusions, you do not feel that the treatment is providing any benefit at all then unfortunately you may be in a minority that do not respond well to ketamine therapy. This is very unfortunate, but it is essential to understand that it is possible you will try the treatment and not find the relief you are looking for. Ultimately, there is no way to know if ketamine will work for you without actually trying it.
Data Driven Treatment for Anxiety
We use the data from published research to guide treatment. This often leads to using a treatment plan based on the “average patient”. There is merit in this approach but in reality, each patient is an individual and the response to treatment can likewise be very individual. Ketamine infusions are not a one-size-fits-all treatment. Some clients report amazing relief with just one infusion. Others find little benefit after three infusions,. But, elect to proceed and ultimately find good benefit after the fourth or fifth infusion. The point being that we always proceed one step at a time. NW Ketamine Infusion does not offer packages of infusions because there should be no pressure to proceed if the treatment isn’t right for you.
Caution and Considerations When Using Ketamine to Treat Anxiety
While ketamine shows significant promise in treating anxiety, it is essential to undergo a thorough screening prior to initiating treatment. Most patients can safely receive ketamine therapy. There are a few medical conditions that might require treatment prior to beginning therapy or stop you from receiving this treatment. A few examples are uncontrolled hypertension, active substance abuse, pregnancy or unstable cardiac disease. Ketamine is not a first-line or stand-alone treatment for mood disorders and is intended to be one component of a multimodal treatment regimen.
Although the potential for addiction is extremely low, ketamine can be abused or misused. Close monitoring by qualified medical professionals is crucial during ketamine administration to ensure safety and appropriate dosing.
Ketamine's potential as a treatment for anxiety is a fascinating area of ongoing research. While it has shown promise in providing rapid and robust relief for some individuals, it is crucial to remember that it may not be suitable for everyone, and further research is needed to fully understand its long-term safety and effectiveness. If you have tried other treatments and still suffer from feelings of anxiety, ketamine infusion therapy may help. Please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation to see if this treatment is right for you.