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Pros and cons of Ketamine Infusion Therapy for the treatment of Anxiety

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Peck
Reading Time: 5 minutes
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If you are a patient of chronic anxiety disorder, you know very well how taxing it can be to find a treatment option that:

  • Works precisely as per your needs,
  • Provides you maximum relief over time,
  • Does not lead you towards unwanted and unexpected side effects.

At Nepenthe wellness center, we provide a variety of IV treatments to treat our client’s mental and physical health conditions.

Among these innovative methods to treat multiple mental health issues, ketamine infusion therapy is one of the most trusted ones by our patients.

In this article, we will discuss briefly how Ketamine works? And what are the real benefits and potential hazards of this therapy if you are considering it as your problem solver?

What is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a potent anesthetic drug, and it has been used in powdered, liquid, and injection forms for sedative purposes in the US from 1960 to date. It is used as an anesthetic during surgeries and as an analgesic in postoperative treatments. It is also being used as a recreational drug in some countries around the globe.

Studies show that Ketamine has an instant effect on treating some mental health disorders, such as treatment-resistant Anxiety and depression, OCD, and PTSD. The people provided with Ketamine infusion showed a significant improvement in their anxiety symptoms even after their first session.

How it works?

Ketamine is an NMDA receptor antagonist. It binds with the proteins of NMDA receptors, blocking the glutamate binding on the cell membrane. Ketamine also affects the synaptic pathways (neural connections in the brain), which is how it is considered to help form new neural connections.

By increasing neural activity, Ketamine helps the brain operate more efficiently. Ketamine boosts neuroplasticity, which is crucial for patients to control unhealthy and harmful thought patterns.

Potential Benefits of Ketamine Treatment for Anxiety

Rapid relief from symptoms

Ketamine infusions for anxiety work in an unbelievably short time, such as within a few hours. Researchers are trying to figure out the exact mechanisms behind this potent result.

But they know that Ketamine helps to re-wire the brain’s neural connections by enhancing neuroplasticity. Which allows us to regulate thought patterns and remove negative thoughts from the brain. Furthermore, these new connections help induce beneficial changes in brain circuit function.

High success rate

Ketamine infusion therapy is still being researched in many countries and almost everywhere. Research shows it has a higher success rate than its competitive anxiety treatment treatments.

Studies suggest that over half of the people with mild to moderate symptoms achieve significant relief after the first single shot, and many more find relief after two or three intakes.

Its excellent efficacy rate makes ketamine infusion therapy so helpful for people who haven’t achieved lasting relief through traditional medical solutions.

Long-lasting symptoms relief

Ketamine infusion therapy is not some procedure that you have to go for just once, and it is done. It does not totally remove anxiety symptoms from your system. According to your treatment plan, you have to take this treatment for a while, and it will work gradually over time. But it is still better than taking many antidepressants every day for the rest of your life.

For a patient with mild to moderate symptoms, the first phase of ketamine infusion therapy comprises a series of six infusions

in two or three weeks. This start-up treatment is followed by a long-term maintenance plan that may or may not include occasional booster infusions as needed.

Potential Side Effects of Ketamine Treatment for Anxiety

Despite being the most efficient choice for anxiety treatments, Ketamine infusion therapy still has its limitations. These limitations could be due to the dissociative effects or addictive properties of the anesthetic.

  1. Short-term side effects 

Ketamine is a rapid-acting drug, and when it is inserted in IV form, effects are instantly experienced by the recipient. Though these acute effects do not stay long and disperse within a few hours for most patients, sometimes these stick for a little longer and take a few days or weeks to vanish completely. The severity of these symptoms depends on the amount of drug consumed.

Some common short-term side effects of Ketamine are the following:

  • Dizziness, nausea, vomiting
  • Disorientation and loss of neural coordination
  • High blood pressure or heart rate, increased body temperature
  • Visual or auditory hallucinations
  1. Long-term side effects 

Long-term side effects of Ketamine are still under study for better evaluation, but a few very distinguished side effects could occur to a patient after an extended and excessive use of the drug over some time. These long-term side effects are the following:

  • Tolerance
  • Physical dependence
  • Dissociation syndrome
  • Addiction to Ketamine

All of these long-term side effects are somehow interlinked with each other. For example, we all know that Ketamine is a potent anesthetic with sedative properties. It is evident for a patient to feel drawn towards the drug again and again if he feels relief from his anxiety symptoms after taking it. But there comes the point when it should be stopped.

The patient can take this drug after being professionally diagnosed by an experienced psychologist. The medication is prescribed only minimally to avoid any unfavorable circumstances. If the patient takes medicine more often, it will lead him toward drug dependence, which could become a more severe drug abuse habit.

In such circumstances, the patient will find it difficult to psychologically function without Ketamine. He will have to take a more potent dose to feel better. Consuming more Ketamine would cause tolerance for the amount now. Slowly, he will become so addicted that he will no longer be present in his normal state of mind and will remain dissociated from his current life.

Leaving the drug suddenly could also result in severe withdrawal symptoms such as hallucinations or a severe relapse of anxiety symptoms.

Precautions to avoid side effects:

A few steps are essential to ensure that ketamine therapy remains in the safe window for the patient and does only good and no harm to him.

  • It must be prescribed for use only after a complete and extensive evaluation by an experienced psychiatrist.
  • Ketamine infusion therapy should be received in a certified clinical setting and administered and monitored at each step by a certified and experienced HCP or nurse.
  • Due to its dissociative effects, the patient might feel groggy and drowsy until after a few hours of receiving an infusion. Someone else should drive the patient back from the clinic to avoid trouble.

Are there any risks associated with ketamine treatment for Anxiety?

A thorough and comprehensive medical evaluation is a must before prescribing ketamine therapy. If the patient has a history of hypertension, cardiovascular issues, or allergy to other sedative drugs. He should not be prescribed this method of treatment in the first place.

The last thing that should be very clear is that all anxiety patients are NOT potential candidates for ketamine therapy. This drug contains potentially addictive properties. Therefore, it is most likely not a suitable option for people with a history of drug addiction or substance abuse.

Bottom line:

At Nepenthe wellness center, we understand that conventional treatment methods such as antidepressants and regular CBT sessions do not always deliver the desired results to treat anxiety disorder.

Therefore, we do our best to provide our clients with the most advanced and evidence-based solutions to treat their anxiety symptoms. If you are looking for a well-established ketamine clinic with certified staff for your treatment, you can contact us. We also offer a free consultation for our clients if they have any queries before starting therapy. Book your consultation now!