How Ketamine Treatment for Anxiety Provides Relief

Anxiety is how your body responds to fear and worry. It can occur in many forms, including daily stress, social anxiety, panic attacks, post-trauma stress, and phobias. Anxiety disorders affect over 40 million Americans over 18, making it the most common mental health disorder. Only a small percentage are receiving treatment, unfortunately. Some have never tried treatment, and some have tried but didn’t see positive results. And for some, not knowing what other options are out there, such as Ketamine treatment for anxiety, is another scenario.

Many risk factors contribute to the development of an anxiety disorder. Examples include genetics, living environment, past traumatic experiences, medical conditions, medication side effects, alcohol or drug misuse, and the number of daily stressors you encounter.

Treatments for Anxiety

To effectively treat anxiety, a multi-layered approach is needed. There is not a single treatment that works for every person. To determine which types of treatments are best, your doctor or a therapist will complete a mental health and substance abuse evaluation.

The evaluation is how your treatment team collects information on your social, medical, psychological, professional, and family histories that can provide insight into why you have anxiety. The information is used to develop a comprehensive treatment plan.

Medication Treatments

Anti-anxiety medication is often the first step because it alleviates the adverse symptoms associated with anxiety. It helps clear your mind so you can benefit from other treatments.

Medications to treat anxiety can include Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs), Serotonin-Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors (SNRIs), benzodiazepines, and tricyclic antidepressants. Your doctor may prescribe one or a combination of medications, depending on the severity of your symptoms.

Psychotherapy Treatments

Psychotherapy is the process of improving psychological issues using evidence-based therapies. Licensed treatment professionals use techniques to help you discover thought patterns contributing to your anxiety. Then, your therapist teaches you how to stop negative thought patterns and replace them with positive ones using behavioral therapies.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is one example. It has multiple sub-types often used to treat anxiety disorders, including dialectical behavioral therapy and trauma-focused CBT. Others include motivational enhancement, contingency, and psychodynamic therapy.

For those with trauma-based anxiety, your therapist may choose treatments such as eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR), trauma resilience model (TRM), and post-induction therapy (PIT).

Psychotherapy treatments may be provided in groups, couples, family, and individual therapy. They may also be paired with holistic or alternative treatments proven to ease anxiety. Examples of holistic therapies include meditation, yoga, acupuncture, stress management, equine, art, music, fitness, and nutrition.

What If Medication and Psychotherapy Don’t Work?

It is crucial to communicate with your doctor and therapist regarding your symptoms and if they are improving. If your anxiety is not subsiding, your therapist may choose to switch, combine, or change the dose of your medications.

Unfortunately for some, making these changes does not always solve the problem. You may experience treatment-resistant anxiety. You try various protocols, yet you still suffer from anxiety. For some, the anxiety can become debilitating, interfering with how you function at work, home, school, or socially.

It can be frustrating not to receive the benefits that medicines and therapy offer other people. The good news is that there are still many treatment options, like ketamine treatment for anxiety.

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a drug first introduced in the 1960s for use as an anesthetic for wounded soldiers on the battlefield. President Nixon later banned it due to becoming a widespread recreational drug misused by people seeking hallucinogenic experiences.

Ketamine is classified as a schedule III non-narcotic, meaning it is illegal to have or use the drug illicitly. Psychiatrists, however, can administer it for treatment-resistant anxiety and other mental health disorders.

What is Ketamine Treatment for Anxiety?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Esketamine, a nasal spray form of ketamine, to treat anxiety that has not responded well to traditional treatments. Psychiatrists can administer off-label versions of ketamine, including forms that can be injected into your muscle or given via an intravenous drip.

Ketamine treatment is administered in a clinical setting by a licensed psychiatrist. No one receives a prescription. Treatment starts at the lowest ketamine dose and is given several times over a month to six weeks. Because the doses are minimal and delivered in a controlled environment, developing a substance use disorder is not a concern.

How Does Ketamine Work?

Ketamine travels from your bloodstream to the brain. It boosts neurotransmitters in the brain responsible for making you feel happier and less anxious. Examples include serotonin and dopamine. The effects can last for weeks and months after each therapy. Many people notice immediate improvements.

Receiving ketamine treatment for anxiety occurs in your doctor’s office, in a quiet, relaxing space. Once the ketamine enters your body, you will likely feel calm, relaxed, and have slight euphoria. Some people feel like they are having an out-of-body experience and dissociating from reality in a good way.

You will likely feel more open, empathetic, and less defensive. You can experience overwhelming happiness, love for others, and acceptance. You will not have a “bad trip” or any trip. Medicinal doses do not usually have adverse side effects. These positive effects typically last for 24 hours or less.

Traditional medicines can take months of trial and error to find a dose that alleviates anxiety. While every person will have different results, ketamine typically reduces anxiety almost immediately.

Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy (KAP)

One way to enhance the effects of ketamine is to combine it with psychotherapy. Ketamine opens your mind and lets you put your guards down in a safe environment. Some people spend months in therapy and can’t truly open up to their counselor. Ketamine-assisted psychotherapy is the perfect alternative to allow yourself to accept positive guidance and affirmations.

Cognitive behavioral therapies have been found to extend the benefits of KAP.

The First Step

If you have tried different treatments for anxiety without success, call the Mental Health Center for information on how to receive ketamine treatment for anxiety. You deserve to live a happy life, free of anxiety. We can help you achieve it.