From intrusive thoughts to severe mood changes, PTSD wracks your mental and emotional well-being. But no matter how many treatment plans you try or specialists you see, it can often feel like relief from your symptoms is impossible.
The availability of ketamine therapy offers hope for PTSD relief at Avesta Ketamine and Wellness with two convenient locations, McLean, Virginia and Bethesda, Maryland.
Our team of health professionals specialize in ketamine infusion therapy and recommend it for a wide range of mental and emotional health problems, including PTSD. Here’s everything you should know about this breakthrough treatment and how it can help you.
Most Common PTSD Treatments
PTSD is a complex disorder and for most individuals with PTSD, treating it is rarely straightforward. First-line treatments include Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs). These therapies can be helpful, but according to the NIH, “antidepressant and cognitive-behavioral therapy have the greatest evidence base but still do not yield a remission of PTSD symptoms in many patients.”1 SSRIs oftentimes do not work for many individuals, or may work for a while and then stop working. These individuals are then considered “treatment-resistant”. For treatment-resistant individuals, who have likely tried multiple SSRIs with no relief, there is no end in sight, which can have an additive effect on the stress of the PTSD.
Ketamine Therapy as a Promising Option for Treatment-Resistant PTSD Patients
Ketamine first became well-known as a club drug. Yet, despite its sordid past, ketamine has been a staple in the medical field — even as far back as the Vietnam War. Medics tending to wounded soldiers on the battlefield, physicians in the operating room, and veterinarians have used ketamine as an anesthesia for many decades.
In more recent years, researchers have given ketamine new life, this time as a therapy for severe mental health conditions. To that end, ketamine is finally being prescribed more commonly for PTSD patients, largely due to the positive research results in its effectiveness for treating individuals struggling with the disorder. There are a few ways ketamine works to relieve your symptoms. As it infuses into your bloodstream intravenously, ketamine increases the availability of a neurotransmitter called glutamate. Glutamate helps you regulate your thoughts and emotions and build neural connections that allow you to gain a new perspective on your thoughts.
A recent theory on PTSD is that it occurs over time as a result of “loss of synaptic connectivity” and that “the stress experienced in PTSD may impair the functioning of synaptic connectivity, which is mostly mediated by glutamate.”2 Ketamine creates connections within the glutamate system, which can theoretically reverse the consequences of stress. Therefore, Ketamine infusion therapy is attractive to many of our patients with PTSD because it offers lasting symptom relief without the risk of addictive medications. And Compared to SSRIs, Ketamine has had more success at lessening peoples’ symptoms of PTSD. According to the NIH, “ketamine has been shown to result in a near complete resolution of symptoms over the short term and seems to have similar findings to the use of ketamine in MDD. These clinical improvements are immediate and last well beyond the half-life of ketamine but unfortunately are transient lasting 1–2 weeks.”3
We recommend ketamine infusion therapy to those whose conditions haven’t responded to traditional treatments.
2 & 3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6457782/
What can I expect from ketamine infusion therapy?
We will first conduct a thorough review of your medical history, in addition to a psychological and physical examination to ensure that ketamine infusion therapy is right for you. Most patients who are in relatively good physical health are typically good candidates.
If we determine that Ketamine therapy is a good option for you, we start with an induction phase. This consists of six initial sessions lasting 45-60 minutes and spread out over 2-3 weeks. During these sessions, we administer low doses of ketamine through an IV in your arm. Before each session, we assess your progress and evaluate the therapy’s effect on your condition. After the induction phase, you will go into the booster phase, which is individualized based on your response. The goal of the boosters is to maintain the progress from the induction, and the aim is to spread the booster sessions out as much as possible. Many of our patients report improved thoughts, feelings, and moods within hours of their first few infusions, with even better, longer-lasting results developing after the fourth or fifth infusion.
Ketamine infusion therapy is minimally invasive and, when administered by our professionals, virtually risk free. Ketamine on its own is highly addictive, so it’s important that you only receive ketamine infusion under our supervision, where we have control over your dosage.
We also strongly encourage you to continue your counseling and other PTSD treatments while receiving ketamine infusions. Ketamine is not typically a stand-alone treatment and should be used in conjunction with other treatments and therapies.