Ketamine is most commonly known for its use as an operating room anesthetic. But in recent years, a growing number of researchers, mental health professionals, and even patients have begun to discuss the ways in which ketamine may be able to help those suffering from debilitating mental health conditions and/or chronic pain.
The use of ketamine for depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain has opened up a new world of possibilities for individuals who might otherwise be unable to find effective treatment options.
We’ve created a helpful guide that provides essential information about ketamine, addressing key questions such as:
- What is ketamine, and what are its effects?
- What is the history of ketamine?
- How is ketamine used in a medical setting?
Whether you’re considering ketamine treatments as an option for yourself or a loved one, this Ketamine 101 guide can help you better understand the subject at hand.
Ketamine is a medication that doctors use as a general anesthetic, specifically for medical procedures in which muscle relaxation is not required.
It is categorized as a Schedule III non-narcotic and FDA-approved as a general anesthetic.
In addition to using ketamine as an anesthetic, doctors may also prescribe it for “off-label” use. “Off-label” use allows licensed medical professionals to provide patients with an FDA-approved substance, but for uses that have yet to be officially approved by the agency. There are many medications that have well-known and well-documented off-label uses, including ketamine.
Mental health professionals sometimes use low-dose ketamine treatments to help reduce the symptoms of treatment-resistant depression, anxiety, PTSD, and chronic pain. Presently, ketamine for mental health treatments is still considered “off-label” use, though its advocates are hopeful it will gain approval soon.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, meaning that it is used to induce a dream-like state of consciousness. The effects of low-dose ketamine can include conscious sedation and reduced awareness of pain, which is largely why it has been such a constant presence in healthcare clinics and operating rooms for many years.
Ketamine effects can also include altered perceptions of sights and sounds. In many cases, ketamine therapy relies on low doses of ketamine to trigger short periods of psychedelic effects, generally accompanied by complementary treatments such as counseling.
Ketamine originated as an anesthetic for animals in the 1960s, quickly gaining FDA approval for use in people in 1970. During the Vietnam War, it was frequently used to administer battlefield treatments for injured soldiers.
Because ketamine doesn’t have an effect on a patient’s breathing, it can be safely used without need for a ventilator. This unique quality quickly earned ketamine distinction as an excellent option for use by emergency responders.
Medically, ketamine is FDA-approved as a general anesthetic. It may be combined with other general anesthetics (like nitrous oxide).
There are also many off-label uses for ketamine, including:
- In an emergency department setting, ketamine can be used for rapid, short-term sedation for:
- Treating dislocated joints
- Reducing fractures
- Treating wounds in children and other potentially uncooperative patients
- Ketamine may be used in low doses to reduce severe pain that stems from:
- Lower back pain
- Arm or leg pain
- Abdominal pain
- Ongoing research is exploring ketamine for treating status epilepticus, a medical condition in which a person experiences either a seizure lasting more than 5 minutes or multiple seizures in a 5-minute span.
- Ketamine may be effective as a depression treatment for individuals who have not responded well to other treatment options. When a person is diagnosed with “treatment-resistant depression,” meaning that their symptoms have not been effectively mitigated with antidepressants and other methods, their doctor may suggest ketamine therapy.
- Studies have also shown ketamine to be a potential treatment for individuals with anxiety disorder, including social anxiety disorder (SAD).
Although there is still ongoing research into ketamine for mental health, a growing number of individuals report life-changing experiences with ketamine therapy.
During ketamine therapy, an individual may experience some mild dissociative effects. However, the possible benefits aren’t limited to the time spent in the treatment room. Mental health professionals believe that the treatment may be able to support the rebuilding of critical connections in the brain. When combined with talk therapy and similar methods, ketamine treatment could be a key factor in helping the brain “learn” to change. After completing a course of treatment, many patients describe feeling that they finally made progress in their efforts to recover from depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
Interested in getting more information about how ketamine may be able to support your wellness goals? The expert professionals at Klarisana can answer your treatment questions, provide details about using ketamine for your specific needs, and more.
Contact Klarisana to learn more today!
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