Ketamine has been long touted as one of the most effective and transformational antidepressant medications in the world. Since the emergence of ketamine infusion therapy in the early 2000s, thousands of people living with treatment-resistant depression have flocked to private ketamine treatment centers to seek the help they need. But did you know ketamine can treat anxiety too?
Do you want to find out how you can use ketamine to help alleviate anxiety symptoms? If so, you have come to the right place. In this article, our experts break down everything there is to know about ketamine therapy for treating anxiety and anxiety-related chronic illnesses. In the end, we suggest tips for determining whether ketamine is right for you.
Ketamine and Anxiety
A major 2018 research study published in a top scientific journal, Neuropsychopharmacology, that explored whether ketamine might be useful in treating social anxiety disorder (SAD). The results were promising. Of the 18 adults subjected to the experiment, half of their self-reported anxiety symptoms vanished after receiving treatment.
The study was a double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled crossover trial—the highest standard of rigor in scientific experimentation. Studies of this kind rarely produce untrustworthy or misleading results. That gives us all the more reason to believe that ketamine infusions have the astounding potential to alleviate the symptoms of generalized or social anxiety.
Conventional Anxiety Medications
The substance typically referred to as ketamine, medically known as ketamine hydrochloride, is an anesthetic painkiller. This painkilling property sets it apart from most other anti-anxiety medications, such as Prozac or Valium. At present, there are two classes of drugs used to treat anxiety: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and benzodiazepines.
SSRIs for Anxiety
Popular SSRIs include fluoxetine (Prozac), sertraline (Zoloft), paroxetine (Paxil), escitalopram (Lexapro), and citalopram (Celexa). These drugs are considered frontline antidepressants, although they are commonly used to treat anxiety disorders as well. As their mechanism of action, they increase the among of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.
Benzodiazepines for Anxiety
By contrast, benzodiazepines are drugs used to treat more acute cases of anxiety and panic. They are fast-acting and provide strong instant relief. Benzodiazepines have sedating effects which can cause drowsiness. Their mechanism of action is enhancing the effects of GABA in the brain. Common benzodiazepines include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan, and Prosom.
Ketamine: The Next Anxiety Medication?
The leading treatment options for anxiety and panic disorders suffer from low efficacy rates. In other words, many who suffer from anxiety are not fully alleviated or not alleviated at all by the effects of benzodiazepines or SSRIs. This is where ketamine infusion therapy comes in.
Since arriving on the medical scene in the early 2000s, intravenous ketamine infusion therapy has gained popularity as a highly effective anti-anxiety treatment. Whereas the majority of those seeking conventional treatment report experiencing little to no relief from conventional anti-anxiety medication, ketamine infusion has success rates between 70 and 80 percent.
Ketamine for Instant Anxiety Relief
One of the key benefits of ketamine infusion therapy is its fast-acting quality. Whereas SSRIs can take months until they work as intended, ketamine infusion therapy provides immediate relief within minutes of administration. Most patients who have undergone ketamine infusion therapy only require one or two infusions to feel the full effects of the treatment.
Those who suffer from treatment-resistant major depressive disorder will do anything for relief. There is a real sense of urgency and necessity that depression patients experience. That is why ketamine therapy is so crucial. Administering ketamine as a last resort therapy can provide that much-needed relief that depression sufferers desperately need.
Is Ketamine Right for You?
A wide body of scientific evidence suggests that ketamine is effective for those who suffer from moderate to severe anxiety. However, it is recommended that other frontline treatment methods be explored before considering ketamine infusion therapy. At present, psychotherapy, SSRIs, and benzodiazepines are common treatments along with practicing a healthy lifestyle.
Ketamine may not be right for you if you take benzodiazepines currently. Since ketamine interferes with benzodiazepines, they cannot be taken at the same time. Ensure that your doctor and anesthesiologist is aware of your medical and prescription drug history before you receive ketamine infusion treatment.
Deciding to Receive Treatment
The decision to receive ketamine infusion therapy is a serious one. As such, it should be made in collaboration with your physician. If, however, you do decide to explore ketamine therapy for your treatment-resistant anxiety, you need to be aware of the side effects and potential hazards that are associated with the procedure.
Although ketamine is known to provide effective relief for anxiety, you must always exercise caution before, during, and after your ketamine treatment. An overview of the side effects of ketamine infusion therapy is summarized in the ‘results’ section of this leading 2014 research paper.
It is also advised that you bring a loved one along with you during the ketamine injection procedure. Not only are patients more comfortable in the presence of their loved ones, but they can also supervise you during your return home from the clinic.
Pick Your Clinic
Finding the right ketamine infusion clinic can be a daunting task. That is why we put together this list of the top ketamine treatment centers across the United States. For your convenience, we grouped our favorite clinics according to their geographical location. Skip ahead to wherever you happen to live to quickly find the best clinics near you.
The most reputable ketamine infusion clinics in the Midwest region of the United States are Michigan Progressive Health and the Midwest Ketamine Center. They are based out of Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Chicago, Illinois, respectively. The Midwest is one of the most underserved regions in the US when it comes to ketamine treatment centers.
There are many ketamine infusion clinics in the American West. Among the most reputable treatment centers are the Ketamine Clinics of Los Angeles, Vitalitas Denver, Neuro-Luminance, Herro Medical Center, and the Phoenix Ketamine Wellness Center.
Eastern and South United States
There are many trusted ketamine infusion clinics in the Eastern and Southern regions of the United States. Some of our favorite clinics in these regions include NY Ketamine Infusions, Boston MindCare, The Ketamine Institute in Pensacola, the Alabama Ketamine Clinics, and the Atlanta Center for Ketamine Therapy.