7 Uses for Ketamine Therapy

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Ketamine for limited use as a general anesthetic, initially used in the 1960s and 1970s. Ketamine was the go-to anesthesia for treating wounded soldiers on the battlefield. Around this same time, researchers were discovering other uses for Ketamine.

However, as the drug became popular among recreational users, President Nixon banned it and classified it as a schedule III narcotic.

Uses for Ketamine in Mental Health

In recent years, Ketamine has been making a comeback in the mental health industry. Psychiatrists can administer Ketamine as an off-label prescription in their clinic. No take-home prescriptions are allowed, however.

Esketamine, a nasal spray, and an intravenous drip are the two most common treatment methods. The more time that passes and the more data gathered, the uses for Ketamine are expanding. Below are seven examples.

1. Severe Depression

Ketamine is currently an effective treatment for severe depression. If you have been diagnosed with major depressive disorder and your symptoms are interfering with daily functioning, you may qualify for Ketamine therapy.

Some people have suicidal thoughts as a symptom of their depression. There is evidence that Ketamine reduces thoughts of suicide. It has rapid effects and lasts for weeks, offering much relief for anyone suffering from depression.

2. Severe PTSD

PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is a mental health condition that occurs because of a previous trauma someone went through but has not yet processed. PTSD symptoms include flashbacks of the trauma, nightmares, high anxiety, alcohol or drug misuse to self-medicate, and depression.

Glutamate is a neurotransmitter in the brain that regulates stress responses. Ketamine is said to regulate glutamate, making it a great candidate for treating PTSD.

3. Addiction

Treating substance use disorders with Ketamine has been studied, and the results were exciting. It was found to reduce cravings, aid in abstinence, reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms, and increases motivation to quit. While most of the benefits were shown among cocaine users, other studies show Ketamine positively influences treatment for alcohol and heroin too.

4. Severe Anxiety

PTSD is not the only form of anxiety that can be treated with Ketamine. Severe anxiety may be marked by panic attacks, phobias, and social anxiety. Symptoms like excessive worry, sleep disturbances, isolation, digestive problems, hyperventilation, and fainting make it challenging to perform daily functions. Some are so debilitated by anxiety they cannot leave their homes.

Ketamine studies show significant improvements in people with social anxiety and other types of anxiety.

5. Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a condition in which a person has extreme mood swings, from depression to mania. When a person is in a depressive state, they may become suicidal and feel hopeless. Ketamine is known to reduce suicidality and other symptoms rapidly.

Lithium is a drug commonly used to treat bipolar. Lithium works to control glutamate in the brain, just like Ketamine. Your doctor will likely administer Ketamine when you are experiencing a depressive mood since the evidence shows its efficacy. There is less research available on how Ketamine influences mania.

6. Physical Conditions

Ketamine research shows it is beneficial in alleviating pain and depression associated with physical conditions. Examples include neuropathic pain, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, thyroid disorder, Lupus, diabetes, Lyme disease, heart disease, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and HIV.

Pain and some physical conditions, like diabetes, share the same pathways as depression. Therefore, if a treatment like Ketamine can improve depressive symptoms, it may also improve other symptoms, like pain.

7. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

OCD is a mental health disorder in which someone has unwanted thoughts or obsessions that lead to compulsive behaviors. They believe if they do not follow through with the action, something terrible will happen to themselves or others. For example, someone may have repeated thoughts that they need to wash their hands five times in the morning, and if they do so, their loved ones will be protected from germs.

These are not passing thoughts, however. They are constant, uncontrollable loops that repeat over and over. Studies show people with OCD who participated in Ketamine therapy had a rapid reduction in obsessive thoughts. The reduction can last up to seven days, but more testing must be done to get an accurate range.

Who Qualifies for Ketamine Therapy?

Not everyone can sign up for Ketamine therapy. It is currently reserved for people who have tried many other treatment methods but have seen no improvements. For example, someone with treatment-resistant treatment. The following is a guideline used by clinicians to determine if Ketamine therapy is a good idea:

  • You have tried standard treatments without success.
  • You have tried multiple versions of traditional treatments without success (increased doses, combined medications, combined medicine with therapy, etc.).
  • You are not currently misusing alcohol or drugs.
  • You do not have a history of psychosis.
  • You do not have a history of increased intracranial pressure.
  • You are not pregnant.
  • You do not have acute or unstable heart disease.
  • You have not had a previous negative experience with Ketamine.

If you aren’t sure if you qualify for Ketamine therapy, call the Mental Health Center. The support team can answer all your questions.

Are There Potential Other Uses for Ketamine Therapy?

Ketamine therapy and research on the uses for Ketamine are in the beginning stages. It can take a long time to get FDA approval. Still, some reports claim many more uses, including eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia, intermittent explosive disorder, and Autism.

It is possible researchers will soon find more opportunities to use Ketamine. When administered in a doctor’s office and under their supervision, the smallest doses of Ketamine can be beneficial.

Getting Started at the Mental Health Center in Los Angeles

The first step to receiving Ketamine therapy is to contact a psychiatrist and schedule a consultation. They may be able to complete the consultation via booking a video conference. A comprehensive assessment will be completed, followed up by a treatment plan. Ketamine therapy is typically administered in three separate sessions within four to six weeks for maximum results.

If you’re ready to discover the uses for Ketamine therapy, reach out to the Mental Health Center. We can help!