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Latina Woman with PTSD

PTSD and Ketamine Infusion Therapy; Understanding How it Works

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that can occur in those who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. A natural disaster, a serious accident, a terrorist act, war/combat, or assault or the threat of death, sexual violence, or serious injury are all types of events that can lead to PTSD. While PTSD can occur in all people, according to the American Psychiatric Association, PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year, and an estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic groups – U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and American Indians – are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.

Traditionally, PTSD patients receive treatment such as psychotherapy and medication such as anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication. While psychotherapy plays an integral role in recovery, most medicines prescribed have variable success rates, have a high incidence of unfavorable side-effects, and slow onset of benefit.

PTSD and Ketamine; An Accidental Discovery

Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic medication first synthesized by a chemist in 1962, looking for an efficient yet safer option. Thanks to ketamine’s favorable safety profile, it rapidly replaced morphine as the “buddy drug” given by soldiers to their wounded comrades in pain on the battlefield during the Vietnam War and is still being used on battlefields today. 

During Operation Iraqi Freedom in the 1990s, doctors made a discovery. Those injured soldiers who received ketamine during their operations had a lower prevalence of PTSD than soldiers receiving no ketamine during their surgeries, despite having more severe injuries, undergoing more surgeries, and spending more time in the ICU. (National Library of Medicine).

How Ketamine Works

Research suggests that one of ketamine’s significant actions is as an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist; that is, it blocks activation of the NMDA receptor. This action leads to increased glutamate release, which is known to be involved in neuronal plasticity and synaptic growth and repair. Through complex pathways, these effects lead to the release of Brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), a substance responsible for the maintenance of healthy neurons and their connections, known as synapses. It is thought that ketamine leads to creating new neuronal circuits and repairing the healthy neuronal connections that existed in the brain before the patient suffered PTSD.

It is surmised that ketamine blocks the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors increasing glutamate in the regions of the brain involved in emotion and long-term memory formation. This causes the suppression of maladaptive emotions and memories, allowing more adaptive neural circuitry and more positive emotions, and fewer negative memories.

Fast Relief

Ketamine Infusions are particularly valuable for those patients who have not responded favorably to other treatments and medications. Patients often report an improvement in PTSD symptoms within a few hours or days, in comparison to weeks or months, it takes for other therapies to begin working.

However, ketamine infusions are not a cure for PTSD and should be thought of as an adjunctive therapy that may provide rapid and lasting symptomatic relief from this condition. Patients suffering from PTSD are advised to continue with other treatments with the guidance of mental health professionals.

Ketamine Infusions Available Locally in Albuquerque, New Mexico

The use of ketamine continues to be studied and used as an effective treatment for various mood disorders. As part of the medical and psychotherapy community, we are committed to developing ways to collaborate when offering patients faster, safer, and more effective solutions to improve their quality of life.

To learn more about Ketamine Infusion Therapy, click here or call 505-639-4973 to schedule a private consultation.

Tranquility Ketamine Clinic is a leading provider of ketamine infusion therapy in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Founded by two experienced emergency room physicians with over 50 years combined practice administering ketamine in the emergency department, the clinic provides effective treatments for depression, PTSD (posttraumatic stress disorder), chronic pain, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder), anxiety, stress, and burnout in comfortable private rooms at its Northeast Albuquerque location.