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Does Ketamine Work for OCD?

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Are you searching for information about Ketamine and OCD? Does Ketamine work for OCD? Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and anxiety are inextricably linked. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that is very common and generally a chronic condition. OCD is marked by uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and/or behaviors (compulsions) that patients feel the urge to repeat over and over.

Thoughts versus Behaviors

For OCD sufferers, it really boils down to thoughts and behaviors. Symptoms of obsessions versus compulsions look different but typically the symptoms are intertwined with thoughts leading to behaviors and behaviors fueling thoughts. It can become a very vicious and debilitating cycle that is difficult to control. Let us understand the symptoms.


Obsessions deal with thoughts and in OCD, obsessive thoughts extend beyond worry. Patients experience repeated thoughts, urges, or mental images that cause anxiety. The most common symptoms, according to The National Institute of Mental Health (NIH) include:

  • Fear of germs or contamination
  • Unwanted forbidden or taboo thoughts involving sex, religion, or harm
  • Aggressive thoughts towards others or self
  • Fear of losing control and harming yourself or others
  • Having things symmetrical or in a perfect order
  • Intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images
  • Excessive focus on religious or moral ideas


Compulsions are repetitive behaviors that a person with OCD feels the urge to do in response to an obsessive thought. Common compulsions include:

  • Excessive cleaning and/or handwashing
  • Ordering and arranging things in a particular, precise way
  • Repeatedly checking on things, such as repeatedly checking to see if the door is locked or that the oven is off
  • Hoarding
  • Compulsive counting

Certainly, most humans experience some degree of worry and compulsion to act from time-to-time, but when these symptoms become out of control, the patient must seek help. The effects of OCD can be debilitating and often cost patients jobs, relationships, and years of their life.

IV Ketamine infusions for depression anxiety ptsd chronic pain fibromyalgia CRPS Bethesda MD McLean VA Washington DC

Treating OCD

Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) are the most commonly prescribed medication for OCD, however many patients, unfortunately, do not find relief from common prescription drugs. At this point, you may have heard about ketamine and are curious to know if it works for OCD. The short answer is yes. At this point, ketamine researcher has focused primarily on anxiety, PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, and chronic pain. Therefore, if you are searching for answers, you may not find many direct headlines for ketamine and OCD, but you have to remember that OCD is an anxiety disorder.

The most promising highlights came from a 2012 clinical trial testing ketamine as a treatment for OCD. Unfortunately, the trial was terminated due to lack of funding, however, a participant came forth in a report published by Stanford University supporting their experience with ketamine for OCD.

The Stanford report focuses on Geuris “Jerry” Rivas, a native of New York, who was diagnosed with severe obsessive-compulsive disorder when he was 15. His obsessions began with organizing and reorganizing the belongings in his bedroom to include posters, comic books, and videos. He notes that the condition took over most of his life.

According to Rivas, “With a single infusion of the drug, Rivas experienced for two weeks what it was like to live without the compulsions and obsessions that had for years controlled his life.

“I felt like, for the first time, I was able to function like a regular person,” he says.

Carolyn Rodriguez, MD, PhD, who as a researcher at Columbia University during the OCD trial says, “What most excites me about ketamine is that it works in a different way than traditional antidepressants,” Rodriguez says.

On that note, researchers continue to study ketamine as a safe, fast-acting treatment for anxiety, PTSD, treatment-resistant depression, and chronic pain with promising results.

At Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, we have treated several patients with OCD with good results. Most often people with OCD present with anxiety, and find the treatment beneficial for both aspects of the disease. We firmly believe that patient trust and comfort come first and we invite you to come in and see us for a consultation to find out for yourself if Ketamine IV Infusions are right for you.

If you would like to learn more about Avesta Ketamine and Wellness, please review our About Us page, our Ketamine For Mood Disorders page or contact us to ask any questions.

Ketamine Infusions in Bethesda, MD, McLean, VA and Washington, DC



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