Ketamine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist, has been used in anesthesia and sedation for the past 50 years. It has recently received a great deal of attention in the medical community due to the discovery that a single sub-anesthetic dose could significantly improve depressive symptoms in a matter of hours. A National Institute of Mental Health study also reported a rapid-onset, sustained reduction in suicidal ideation within minutes, in patients receiving an infusion of Ketamine. This revelation has led to numerous other studies that indicate that Ketamine infusion therapy can be used to treat other disorders such as PTSD and general and social anxiety. While the exact mechanism of how Ketamine produces its anti-depressive and anxiolytic effects is not fully known, Ketamine does rapidly induce
synaptogenesis and initiates brain plasticity thus increasing prefrontal cortex connectivity and reversing the neuronal atrophy and decrease in synaptic density seen in prolonged stress and depressive states. Ketamine infusion therapy is an important new step in the treatment of depression and anxiety.
Major Depressive Disorder
Depression is characterized by feelings of worthlessness, guilt, indecisiveness, loss of interest or pleasure in most activities, sleep disturbances, fatigue and recurrent thoughts of death. It may also manifest as unexplained pain or weight loss/gain. If not adequately treated these symptoms often lead to severe impairment in social, domestic and work activities. While it is most classically episodic, depression can become chronic, often lasting months to years.
Currently available treatments include: pharmacotherapy, psychotherapy-cognitive behavior therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS), Ketamine infusions.
Ketamine infusion therapy in conjunction with psychotherapy-CBT can significantly improve mood in patients with treatment resistant depression(TRD).
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) is persistent and excessive worry occurring more days than not for at least 6 months. The worry can be about job responsibilities, health, finances, family, or many other issues.
Individuals with GAD find it difficult to control the worry and often exhibits such traits as irritability, restlessness and impaired concentration. If severe, GAD can prevent some people from performing the simplest of day to day activities.
Generalize anxiety disorder can worsen digestive problems, headaches, and chronic pain. Other disorders, such as depression or substance abuse often accompany GAD.
Ketamine infusions are a promising new avenue of treatment for those that suffer from severe anxiety.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) starts with exposure to a traumatic or stressful event. PTSD suffers then relive the event in vivid and frightening ways. These recurrent and disturbing thoughts and feelings can begin months or even years after the incident has occurred.
For most people, PTSD causes difficulty in functioning in work, social or family situations. Drug abuse and alcohol abuse commonly develop with PTSD.
New studies are proving that Ketamine infusions not only rapidly and effectively lessen the severity of PTSD symptoms they may also prevent or reduce the incidence of developing PTSD.
Migraines are an inherited episodic disorder of head pain and focal neurological manifestations such as nausea or a sensitivity to light or sound.Chronic migraine suffers are more likely to also suffer from anxiety, depression and chronic pain.
Migraines last several hours to several days, leading to many missed days of work, school, and life in general. These headaches can be debilitating and have a great impact on a person's quality of life.
Ketamine infusions may be beneficial in individuals with chronic migraine headaches who have failed other aggressive therapies.