June 23, 2024
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Ketamine as a Promising Treatment for Anxiety

As an anesthetic that rose to prominence as field medicine during the Vietnam War, ketamine has neuromodulation properties that work in a different way from conventional anti-depression medications. It’s also showing promising results for treating anxiety.

Ketamine’s history dates back about 70 years before its increasing acceptance as a general anesthetic. More recently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved a nasal spray form of the medication (Spravato) for use as an antidepressant in treatment-resistant depression.

The way ketamine works on receptors in the brain follows a different chemical path than other anesthetics and antidepressants, a trait that has captured the attention of medical researchers working to discover more about its properties.

At KETA Medical Center, we believe in all the applications offered by this ground-breaking medication. Anxiety and depression often accompany each other in patients, and that led to investigating ketamine’s abilities to treat anxiety.

 

Treatment Resistance

A problem shared by both anxiety and depression is that many patients are treatment resistant. Medications that work for many have little effect on treatment-resistant patients. For those with generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), as many as 50% see no help from traditional anxiety treatments.

Glutamate is a chemical messenger used by the brain for regulating mood as well as for learning and memory. Ketamine increases the activity of glutamate in the brain. Other anti-anxiety medications work on other chemicals, such as serotonin.

Since treatment resistance is a problem for conventional medications, it’s exciting that ketamine provides an alternative chemistry with which to approach anxiety.

 

Speedy Response

Another fundamental difference between ketamine and traditional anti-anxiety medications is the speed of its response. Previously, you could expect to wait between two and six weeks before you felt results from anti-anxiety drugs.

Ketamine acts on glutamate quickly, and it’s common for patients to feel relief from anxiety in as little as two hours. This is also the case for ketamine treatment of depression. There’s also the matter of side effects. Traditional medications for anxiety can make you sleepy, sedated and confused. While ketamine can cause these effects when using it at anesthetic doses, its use as an anxiety treatment requires much lower doses, so side effects are limited.

 

Growing Research

Anxiety remains an off-label use for ketamine and, compared with its use for depression, research as an anti-anxiety treatment is somewhat behind. The evidence base is growing, though. ketamine produces effective results for GAD, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

 

Intravenous Infusion

At KETA Medical Center, we use intravenous (IV) infusion of ketamine to treat anxiety. Delivering the medication directly
to the bloodstream produced a 30% reduction in anxiety symptoms, according to a three-year study ending in 2022.

Ketamine infusions provide for the best absorption by your body. An IV session usually takes about 40 minutes.

If traditional anti-anxiety medications are failing to help you get relief, we can talk to you about your other options. Call the KETA Medical 201-483-3760 or book a free phone consultation via our website www.ketamc.com

We have offices in Oradell, the Upper West Side of Manhattan, and in New Rochelle.


Dr. Haviva Malina is an emergency medicine physician and co-founder of KETA Medical Center.

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