What Recent Research Says About Ketamine for Use With PTSD

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Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) affects millions of Americans and people around the world. Although many people mistakenly believe that PTSD is an illness only experienced by combat veterans, this is simply not true. Anyone who has ever experienced a traumatic event can be diagnosed with PTSD. Living with PTSD is incredibly difficult. All too often, those who live struggle with the disorder will try any means necessary to cope with the symptoms. This includes abusing alcohol and drugs. Unfortunately, addiction and alcoholism often go hand-in-hand with PTSD. Although many of us have heard about people with PTSD abusing alcohol, marijuana, and prescription medications like Hydrocodone or Oxycodone; there is a not-so-new drug on the scene that is becoming more popular among PTSD survivors. It’s called Ketamine. The thing is – Ketamine might actually be a Godsend when it comes to preventing and treating PTSD. Current research suggests that controlled doses of Ketamine may be effective in doing away with PTSD symptoms altogether and preventing the illness completely. A recent study involving mice as test subjects revealed that science may be on its way to developing a Ketamine-based vaccine. Furthermore, many scientists are suggesting that low doses of Ketamine could treat PTSD. For millions of people across the globe, this news brings hope and the potential for much-needed healing. Can Ketamine prevent and treat PTSD? If so, it’s no wonder that so many PTSD survivors are turning to the drug for some much-needed relief.

What is PTSD? Understanding Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

About 25 percent of all people who survive a psychological trauma will experience at least some level of PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is an anxiety disorder that happens as the result of a traumatic event. As explained, anyone can be diagnosed with PTSD. You do not have to be a combat veteran to experience PTSD, although many veterans who have served in a combat zone will ultimately be become victim to the disorder. In fact, statistics reveal that one in five veterans came home from the war in Iraq with PTSD. A car accident, witnessing a violent crime, seeing the sudden death of a loved one, sexual or physical assault, destructive weather phenomenon – these are just a few examples of traumatic episodes that can cause PTSD. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is not a sign of weakness or a moral failing. It is the brain’s natural response to surviving trauma. Sadly, less than half of all people who experience PTSD ever seek proper treatment for their condition. Though not intended to be all-inclusive, here are just a few of the symptoms of PTSD:

  • Re-living the trauma by enduring repeated flashbacks of the event
  • Hyperarousal – the pervasive sense that something bad is going to happen
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Chronic anxiety
  • Nightmares and insomnia
  • Severe depression
  • Psychological numbing or disassociation
  • Physical symptoms like migraine headaches or nausea
  • Substance abuse to cope with symptoms of the disorder

Do you think you might have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

Current Treatment Options for Those Who Suffer From PTSD

Unfortunately, the medical community is very much at a loss when it comes to treating PTSD. The symptoms are chronic and progressive, meaning they often get worse over time. PTSD symptoms can last for years – even decades – after the traumatic event has occurred.  Although there are a few treatment options available for those who suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, many experts agree these options are notably lacking or problematic in and of themselves. Medication is often prescribed for people with PTSD. This is one treatment method. Benzodiazepines like Xanax and Klonopin, which are typically prescribed to treat anxiety, are often given to people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. The downside is these drugs are highly addictive; they have several negative side effects; and they only mask the symptoms, rather than treating them. Anti-depressants and other psychiatric drugs are also used for PTSD treatment. Individual therapy is another treatment option for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This is a type of “talk therapy” where the person with PTSD discusses his or her condition with a licensed therapist or psychologist and participates in psychotherapy. The problem is, this type of treatment is ongoing and can last years. People with PTSD are seeking immediate relief. A third PTSD treatment method is PTSD Anonymous. That’s right… there is a 12-Step program for people who have Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although there are some meetings in Washington State, meetings are far and few between. Most people don’t know about the program, and unfortunately, most people won’t go. The kind of anxiety that accompanies PTSD usually prevents those who suffer with the condition from pursuing unfamiliar activities.

The Latest Research on Ketamine and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

The fact is, the outlook for people with PTSD is pretty dismal. With no real solutions on the horizon for treating the condition, it’s no surprise the scientific community is pursuing new and exciting ways for people who struggle with this anxiety disorder. Pills don’t work. Therapy isn’t encouraging. The 12-Step movement isn’t taking hold. Could Ketamine be the next frontier when it comes to PTSD treatment? Ketamine is an anesthetic used to inhibit pain in the brain. It is used before major surgery and medical procedures to numb the patient and cause skeletal muscle relaxation. Ketamine is often abused as a street drug known as “Special K,” which causes euphoria. It can be injected, snorted, used in drinks, or smoked. Because Special K has become a popular drug on the club scene, which has resulted in the untimely death of a number of teenagers, Ketamine has gotten a bad name in recent years. In the case of PTSD, however; Ketamine may very well be the disorder’s saving grace. In a 2017 study published in The Journal of Neuropsychopharmacology, Columbia University Medical Center is reporting that Ketamine may be able to prevent PTSD.  Research revealed that mice who were administered one dose of Ketamine a week before being exposed to a stressful event had a lessened fear response to the event. In simple terms, it was concluded that Ketamine might prevent PTSD symptoms for those who face the potential of psychological trauma. More specifically, scientists are suggesting that if small doses of Ketamine were administered to soldiers before they went into combat, they may never experience PTSD after they leave the combat zone. Ketamine is being explored as a as a type of vaccine, but it is also getting some attention as a treatment option for those who already have PTSD. Medical experts are suggesting that Ketamine might have the potential to reduce the debilitating symptoms of PTSD by lowering the brain and body’s responses to traumatic fear. Primal “fight or flight” fear is the root of cause post-traumatic stress.

Are You Using Ketamine to Cope with PTSD?

Although this latest scientific discovery brings good news about the potential for a PTSD vaccine and could be revolutionary in terms of PTSD treatment, this is not a green light to abuse Ketamine. Because Ketamine may really work, it’s no real revelation that many people who have this disorder are pursuing it as a solution to their problem. If you get relief from a certain substance, you pursue that substance again and again to maintain that level of comfort. This is not a new concept. This is the age-old story of addiction. If you have been abusing Ketamine, make no mistake about it – you are playing with fire. Ketamine is a dangerous substance that can very easily cause accidental overdose and death. Ketamine should ONLY be administered by a doctor for medical reasons, namely; surgery. If you think you may be addicted to Ketamine, you could benefit from participating in an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Many IOP programs have addiction experts who specialize in PTSD. At IOP, you can get help for your Ketamine addiction and treat Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. No matter how bad your situation may be, recovery from addiction is possible.