Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a mood disorder that can develop in some individuals after experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event. It is estimated that one out of 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. The condition can occur after various distressing events. These include military combat, sexual assault, natural disasters, serious accidents, or other life-threatening situations.
Symptoms of PTSD can be grouped into four main categories:
- Intrusive Memories: Individuals may experience distressing and recurrent memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, or intense emotional or physical reactions when reminded of the event.
- Avoidance: People with PTSD may try to avoid thoughts, feelings, or situations that remind them of the trauma. They may withdraw from friends and family. They may also avoid talking about the event or steer clear of certain places or activities that trigger distressing memories.
- Negative Changes in Thinking and Mood: This includes experiencing negative emotions, feelings of detachment or estrangement from others. It may also include difficulty experiencing positive emotions, memory problems related to the trauma, and negative beliefs about oneself or the world.
- Changes in Arousal and Reactivity: Individuals with PTSD may become easily startled, experience difficulty sleeping, have outbursts of anger, or have trouble concentrating. They may also exhibit hypervigilance or be constantly on guard for potential threats.
Severity and Duration of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
It is essential to note that not everyone who experiences a traumatic event will develop Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The disorder's severity and duration can vary from person to person. Some individuals may recover naturally with time. However, for others, PTSD can be a chronic and debilitating condition. It may require professional intervention and support. Treatments, such as psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, and medication, can help manage the symptoms and improve the individual's quality of life.
How Does Ketamine Work to Treat PTSD?
PTSD is a debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It stems from exposure to traumatic events. The traditional treatment options for PTSD have often included psychotherapy and medications. But, recent research has shed light on the potential of ketamine as a novel and promising therapeutic approach.
Ketamine is primarily known as an anesthetic and a dissociative drug. It was first introduced in the 1960s and quickly became a popular anesthetic due to its rapid onset and short duration of action. More recently, it has gained attention in the medical community for its off-label use in treating various mental health disorders, including depression and PTSD.
Mechanism of Action for Ketamine
The exact mechanism of how ketamine alleviates the symptoms of PTSD is not entirely understood. But, research suggests that it acts on multiple pathways in the brain. This leads to its unique therapeutic effects.
- NMDA Receptor Modulation: Ketamine primarily functions as an NMDA receptor antagonist. NMDA receptors are involved in synaptic plasticity, learning, and memory. And, they play a critical role in processing traumatic memories. By blocking these receptors, ketamine disrupts the consolidation of traumatic memories. This makes them less emotionally charged and more manageable.
- Synaptic Connectivity: Ketamine influences brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a protein that supports the survival and growth of neurons. Studies have shown that ketamine rapidly increases BDNF levels. This promotes synaptic connections and neuroplasticity. This enhanced synaptic connectivity allows the brain to rewire itself. And, it forms new, healthier neural pathways, which may be particularly beneficial for individuals with PTSD.
- Glutamate Regulation: Glutamate is a neurotransmitter associated with various cognitive functions. The dysregulation of Glutamate has been implicated in psychiatric disorders, including PTSD. Ketamine helps restore glutamate balance in the brain. This contributes to mood stabilization and emotional regulation.
Clinical Trials for Use of Ketamine to Treat PTSD
Numerous clinical trials and studies have explored ketamine's effects on PTSD. And, the results have been promising. Some studies have reported significant reductions in PTSD symptom severity and an overall improvement in quality of life among participants. Furthermore, the effects of ketamine are often seen within hours to days after treatment. This timeline is considerably faster compared to traditional medications.
Ketamine Treatment Plan for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
For over two decades the most common protocol used to treat mood disorders such as PTSD in the setting of a ketamine clinic involves a primary series of six infusions. Research has shown that one infusion can provide rapid relief. However, 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.
One infusion will not erase years or decades of PTSD. 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.
Recommendations for Ketamine Use to Treat PTSD
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 by then. 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.
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
While ketamine is a promising new treatment for PTSD, 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. It 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.
While ketamine's potential as a treatment for PTSD is indeed exciting, it is essential to remember that it is not a cure and is intended to be used alongside other forms of treatment. Psychotherapy and/or other forms of support should be integrated into the treatment plan for the best results. Additionally, long-term effects and potential side effects of ketamine use are still being studied. So it is crucial that its administration be carried out under the supervision of qualified healthcare professionals.
Overall, ketamine represents a significant breakthrough in the realm of mental health treatment, offering hope for those suffering from PTSD and other treatment-resistant conditions.
As research continues, we can look forward to gaining a deeper understanding of ketamine's mechanisms and refining its application to provide lasting relief and healing to individuals battling PTSD.
There are many options available to control PTSD symptoms but if you have tried other methods and haven’t found relief; ketamine may be an excellent option for you. Please contact us to schedule a free initial consultation to see if this treatment is right for you and ask about our discount for veterans and first responders.