The use of ketamine as a medical treatment is growing in popularity. As a result, more doctors and patients are discussing the drug as an option for reducing pain, stress, and anxiety. In some cases, ketamine can be prescribed as a safer alternative to other drugs or as a stand-alone treatment.
To understand how ketamine could potentially help you, it’s important to understand how it works in the body. When taken as an injection or infusion, ketamine blocks nociceptive glutamate receptor sites in the brain and spinal cord. This has a direct impact on pain processing centers in the brain. In fact, studies have shown that this effect can last for up to 72 hours after administration of the drug.
Read on to learn more about how ketamine can work for you and how to get a prescription for it if that’s something you want to do.
What is Ketamine?
Ketamine is a prescription medication that can be used in a variety of ways. Depending on your symptoms and the type of pain you’re experiencing, your doctor may suggest a low dose of ketamine for pain relief. Some patients are given a higher dose of ketamine to reduce their anxiety or depression.
Ketamine was developed in the 1960s as an anesthetic for patients who would be undergoing surgery. It’s a type of drug called an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist. Research has shown that ketamine is also effective in treating certain types of chronic pain, including fibromyalgia and other types of neuropathic pain.
How Can Ketamine Help With Pain and Depression?
Most research indicates that ketamine can help with both pain relief and depression. Ketamine has been shown to have antidepressant effects. In some cases, the drug can help with major depressive disorder, bipolar depression, and treatment-resistant depression. What’s more, ketamine can also be helpful for reducing chronic pain.
You don’t have to suffer from both conditions at the same time. Depending on the severity of your symptoms, your doctor may prescribe low doses of ketamine to help with your pain while you work toward getting better using other treatments.
For pain, ketamine is often given as an intravenous (IV) infusion or as an injection. The drug can also be taken orally. When taken as an injection, low doses of ketamine can last for 24 to 72 hours.
How Can Ketamine Help With Anxiety?
There’s evidence to suggest that ketamine can help with anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder. While it’s unclear exactly how ketamine works to reduce anxiety, researchers believe it might have something to do with the way the drug interacts with dopamine and serotonin receptors in the brain.
Studies show that ketamine is particularly effective when it comes to obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). In some cases, a single dose of ketamine can reduce the symptoms of OCD for several weeks.
It’s possible to take low doses of ketamine as an oral tablet or to get a single injection. You may also be given a higher dose of ketamine if you’re suffering from acute or extreme anxiety.
How Can Ketamine Help With PTSD?
There’s evidence that ketamine can help with PTSD and other symptoms of mental illnesses. Because of its fast-acting and powerful anti-depressant effects, ketamine is used to help people get temporary relief from the symptoms of PTSD while they work toward more permanent treatments.
Ketamine is sometimes prescribed to help people with PTSD deal with severe anxiety. In fact, it’s one of the most common uses of ketamine in emergency rooms.
Ketamine works quickly, generally taking effect within minutes after an injection. The drug has a half-life of a few hours, though, so the effects wear off quickly. That’s why doctors often prescribe a lower dose of ketamine for PTSD sufferers than for people who are depressed.
Understanding the Dangers of Ketamine
While ketamine can be helpful for treating depression and anxiety, it’s important to note that it’s a powerful drug. It’s possible to become addicted to ketamine, and there are risks involved in taking the drug.
When taking ketamine, you’ll likely feel an intense high followed by feelings of dissociation. You may feel as though you’re outside of your body or in a dreamlike state.
You may also experience hallucinations.
Ending your use of ketamine after you have a single treatment or a few sessions is the best way to avoid addiction. If you have chronic pain, depression, or another condition that warrants ongoing ketamine treatment, it’s important to find a doctor who will closely monitor your progress.
The Final Word
Ketamine is a powerful drug that holds great potential for treating a variety of mental and physical disorders. While there are benefits to using ketamine, it’s a drug with risks.
The potential side effects of ketamine can be treated, but it’s important to speak with your doctor about how best to avoid them.
If you’re experiencing chronic pain or debilitating depression, ketamine may be something to discuss with your doctor. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the dosage, possible side effects, and how long the treatment will last.