Ketamine Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD for short, is a mental health condition triggered by a traumatic event such as combat exposure, sexual or physical abuse/assault, natural disasters, serious accidents or terrorist attacks.
There are four main types of PTSD symptoms:
- Reliving the event: bad memories or nightmares, feeling like you are going through the trauma again and flashbacks.
- Avoidance behavior: Avoiding situations or people that trigger memories of the trauma, and even avoiding talking about or thinking about the trauma.
- Negative changes in beliefs and feelings: A change in the way you think about yourself and others; feelings of fear, guilt or shame; and a loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy.
- Hyperarousal: Being jittery or always alert, always on the lookout for danger, and trouble sleeping or concentrating.
It is estimated that 7.8% of Americans will experience PTSD at some point in their lives. Annually, 5.2 million American adults (18-52) have PTSD, which makes up 10.4% of women and 5% of men. PTSD is very common among combat veterans, and 30% of treated veterans coming home from Iraq and Afghanistan have been diagnosed according to the Department of Veteran Affairs. Of those veterans with PTSD symptoms, only 40% seek help.
PTSD is treated with psychotherapy and medication.
An antidepressant knows as a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) such as Paxil, Zoloft or Prozac is effective for PTSD. The medication Prazosin has been found to be helpful in decreasing nightmares.
Ketamine IV infusions are now being used to treat PTSD. Unlike SSRIs which can take weeks to months to start working, a patient can feel the benefits of Ketamine within 24 hours.
Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT): Patients learn skills to help them understand how trauma has changed their thoughts and feelings.
Prolonged Exposure Therapy (PET): Patient talks about his or her trauma repeatedly until the memories are no longer upsetting.
IV Ketamine Treatment for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
There have been many individual reports in the medical literature of patients improving with intravenous ketamine treatment. In two phases of a study at Mount Sinai, ketamine was associated with substantial reduction in PTSD symptom severity. Ketamine also had an antidepressant effect, and this also was seen most strongly after one day. Ketamine-related improvement in PTSD was independent of ketamine-related improvement in depression.
PTSD Can Vary from Patient to Patient
It’s not known why some people develop PTSD while others do not. There are several factors that may determine whether or not you get PTSD. These include intensity of the trauma, length of trauma, degree of personal injury, proximity to the event, individual control of the event, and the amount of help and support obtained after the trauma.
The Risk of Suicide in Patients with PTSD is High – Please Take Care
The risk of suicide is higher in people with PTSD. If you or a loved one are suicidal, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
It is very possible to overcome PTSD and lead a normal life. The key is to get help as soon as possible. Find a mental health professional like a psychologist, psychiatrist or PTSD treatment center. Contact COPE to learn more about IV Ketamine treatment for PTSD.