How Ketamine Can Be Helpful For Those With PTSD

September 30, 2021

 
How Ketamine Can Be Helpful For Those With PTSD

PTSD Affects Many People

Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health disorder precipitated by an event you experience or witness someone else experience. 

After a traumatic event, it’s normal to have flashbacks, fear, anxiety, and even temporary depression. However, if these symptoms persist and begin interfering with your daily tasks, you may be experiencing PTSD. 

Ongoing medical treatment and therapy are essential to work through this condition and allow you to function in your everyday life. 

Causes of PTSD

As mentioned above, PTSD develops after an individual sees, experiences, or hears about a traumatic event. This is typically an event that poses a threat of injury, sexual violation, or death.

Researchers don’t fully understand why some people develop PTSD and others don’t after a traumatic event, but it may be related to several different causes, such as:

  • Your brain chemistry
  • Hormone levels
  • Inherited traits
  • Family history of a mental health disorder
  • Stressful life experiences 

Risk Factors for PTSD

There are also situational risk factors that can intensify PTSD symptoms and increase the chances of developing PTSD, such as severe trauma, early trauma, or mental illness. 

Severe or Long-Lasting Trauma

The risk of developing PTSD increases when trauma continues for long periods. This could include an extended abusive relationship, fighting in the military overseas, or experiencing extreme violence continuously, such as domestic abuse or serial violence and murder.

There is no clear definition of what constitutes “severe trauma” because this differs for each individual. However, any event where injury, death, or sexual violation takes place is traumatic and can potentially lead to PTSD.   

Early Trauma

If you experience a traumatic event in your adulthood after experiencing a traumatic event as a child, it could increase your chances of developing PTSD. 

Fighting overseas is a risk factor for PTSD, especially for soldiers who experienced abuse or bullying as children. The combination of both can be the perfect catalyst for increased risk of PTSD.    

Work-Related Trauma

Any traumatic event can cause PTSD, but some jobs have a greater chance of exposing workers to traumatic situations than others. Because of this constant exposure to trauma, the chances of developing PTSD increase.  

Mental Health Conditions

PTSD might occur in conjunction with other mental health conditions, such as depression or anxiety. People with depression or anxiety are more prone to developing PTSD after a traumatic event due to biological and environmental factors.  

If someone struggles with social anxiety disorder, they already have extreme fears regarding public places. If this individual gets bullied in school, they may have a harder time overcoming their trauma than someone who does not have an underlying disorder. 

Trauma is difficult to overcome regardless of whether an individual experiences mental illness, but recovery can be more difficult for someone struggling with mental health.

A Family History of Mental Health Problems

Did you know that many mental health disorders such as PTSD, anxiety, and depression often run in families? Many people are genetically predisposed to developing them. 

If your grandmother has a history of mental health conditions, you and your parents are at an increased risk of developing PTSD, or other mental disorders.

It is possible for severe PTSD to develop from experiences within a family, and this is known as generational trauma. PTSD does not always come from family history alone, but it might be helpful to consider how heredity might affect your ability to overcome a traumatic situation.  

Substance Misuse

Although it can be tempting to find temporary relief from trauma with drugs or alcohol, these substances are never the answer. 

Misusing substances impairs your ability to react to stressful situations, which could further precipitate PTSD symptoms.  

Lacking a Support System

If you experience a traumatic event and do not have a proper support system, it could increase your odds of developing PTSD or in fact intensify your symptoms. 

A support system could include anyone you trust, like family members, friends, co-workers, or people at your church. Regardless of who you choose to surround yourself with, a support system is vital when dealing with trauma and decreasing the probability of developing PTSD. 

Symptoms of PTSD

PTSD symptoms are grouped into four major categories: intrusion, avoidance, changes in cognition and mood, and alterations in arousal and reactivity. 

Intrusion

Intrusion refers to any flashbacks, dreams, or obsessive thoughts regarding the traumatic event. Intrusion can leave you feeling frightened, stressed, and anxious because it makes you feel like you are reliving the experience. 

For example, if you witness a robbery involving a gun, you might have repeated dreams of this experience or think about it excessively. 

Avoidance

If you have PTSD, you might avoid locations, events, people, or objects that remind you of the triggering event. 

Using the example above, if you experience a robbery at a local bank, you might avoid going to banks or other stores that make you think about your trauma. In addition, you might avoid the friend who was with you at the time because they also remind you of the trauma. 

Lastly, you might keep yourself from thinking, talking, or allowing yourself to process your emotions because you’re afraid to face them. This can hinder your healing, especially when avoidance and intrusive thoughts start to conflict in your mind. These two symptoms can cause an array of stress, frustration, and anxiety. 

Changes in Cognition and Mood

Changes can appear differently for each individual. You might experience a combination of anxiety, anger, fear, or guilt. These emotions may change rapidly from moment to moment, leaving you feeling overwhelmed and frustrated. 

Many people with PTSD blame themselves for what happened and develop a negative view of themselves and others. This can cause them to experience a decrease in self-esteem and believe that no one is trustworthy. As a result, they might self-isolate and find themselves lacking a support system.   

Changes in Arousal and Reactivity

Many people with PTSD may “act out” under challenging circumstances. If you have PTSD, you might quickly become angry, act recklessly and dangerously, be overly suspicious, experience difficulty sleeping, or have trouble focusing on a task. 

These symptoms can cause problems in your relationships, job, physical health, and daily tasks. 

In addition to this, people with PTSD experience depression, anxiety, issues with memory, physical symptoms, and substance misuse. Diagnosing PTSD is the first step towards seeking treatment. It might be scary to face this issue or admit the problem, but it’s vital when seeking proper help.  

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine is a medication that was previously prescribed as a water-soluble anesthetic and analgesic. This medication triggers a state of hypnosis and acts as an analgesic and anesthetic without slowing breathing. 

Recently, ketamine has emerged as an effective medication for those with treatment-resistant depression. It also may help people with anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health disorders. 

How Does Ketamine Work?

For PTSD, ketamine has acted as an antagonist at the N-methyl-D-aspartate-type glutamate (NMDA) receptor. 

The activation of NMDA increases feelings of depression and anxiety and can lead to PTSD when over-activated. Since ketamine is an antagonist to the NMDA receptor, it can decrease PTSD-related depression and anxiety.      

Is Ketamine Safe?

As with any medication, ketamine has some side effects. Ketamine infusions may cause nausea and vomiting, increased blood pressure, perceptual disorientation, and dissociation. 

Perceptual disorientation could include overstimulation of colors, textures, or noises, as well as blurred vision and a feeling of time slowing down or speeding up. 

Dissociation is often referred to as an “out-of-body experience” and describes a detachment of normally connected mental processes. 

Perception and dissociation side effects are more common during the first infusion and disappear after the infusion has ended. Don’t let the fear of side effects stop you from receiving ketamine treatments. Side effects are often mild and quickly disappearing, with long-lasting benefits.  

What Should I Know About Pasithea Therapeutics?

Pasithea Therapeutics, a biotech company on the forefront of developing alternative therapies to patients suffering with psychiatric disorders, uses IV Ketamine infusions to help treat their patients.

In-home therapy provides an optimal form of treatment. Guided by our team anesthesiologists and CRNAs, we have reduced the risk of potential abuse of the medication. 

If you struggle with PTSD, you might prefer to have your treatment somewhere you feel safe and comfortable, such as your home. If so, you may find comfort in knowing that Pasithea’s IV-administered ketamine can be done wherever you feel comfortable. During and throughout treatment, you will have a CRNA or anesthesiologist beside you to monitor your experience.

We hope this medication will bring the peace that you’ve been seeking.

Summing It Up

PTSD is not exclusive to veterans. It can affect anyone who has experienced a traumatic event. PTSD risk factors include a family history of mental illness, childhood trauma, traumatic jobs, comorbid mental disorders, and a lack of a support system. 

Symptoms can vary but commonly involve intrusion, avoidance, alteration in cognition and mood, and change in arousal and reactivity. 

Ketamine is a medication used to treat long-term depression that has also been effective in helping patients manage PTSD. 

If you feel frustrated and burnt out after trying multiple PTSD treatments that don’t work, consider giving ketamine a try. You might find that this medication makes a huge difference in your overall mood, daily functions, and mental health. 

Sources:

Ketamine for major depression: New tool, new questions | Harvard Health

Repurposing Ketamine in Depression and Related Disorders: Can This Enigmatic Drug Achieve Success? | Frontiers

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) - Symptoms and causes | Mayo Clinic

What Is PTSD? | Psychiatry.org

Ketamine as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder: a review | NCBI


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