While more study and documentation is needed to establish the drug as a potent anti-anxiety medication, patients taking ketamine for anxiety disorders have been reporting dramatic life changes.

What Is Ketamine?

First discovered in the early 1960s, ketamine is a powerful anesthetic primarily used in hospital emergency rooms and burn centers. It can cause hallucinogenic effects, and that has made it a fixture on the club drug scene.

Ketamine is classified by the government as a Schedule III controlled substance, meaning it has a relatively low (but not non-existent) potential for abuse. When administered in controlled doses in healthcare settings, ketamine can be used safely and without much risk of side effects.

When prescribed as an anti-depressant/anti-anxiety drug, it must be injected intravenously by a doctor to achieve maximum effect. Unlike most anti-depressants, ketamine takes effect quickly, usually within 24 hours, and when used for the treatment of anxiety, its mood-altering effects are just as rapid.

How Does Ketamine Work?

Most anti-depressant drugs work in the brain by increasing levels of the neurotransmitter serotonin, which moderates mood and helps preserve emotional balance. Likewise, ketamine also influences serotonin levels, but it does so in a unique way.

Ketamine acts as a neural growth stimulator. It causes an increase in the connections between synapses and boosts the brain’s overall functional capacity.  As a result, serotonin production is ramped up quickly and in a natural, sustainable way. This helps explain why those who undergo ketamine infusion therapy for depression or anxiety experience positive effects that last for days, long after ketamine has been flushed from their system.

The Future of Ketamine Therapy for Anxiety

While more study is needed to verify the drug’s long-term effectiveness, most of the men and women who’ve been given ketamine for anxiety disorders have praised it for its strength, speed and usefulness.

Nevertheless, there are two important cautions about ketamine that all potential users should keep in mind.

First, if taken in excess, ketamine can actually provoke anxiety rather than reducing it, which is why the drug should only be administered by a trained medical professional in a licensed mental or physical health treatment facility.

Second, like any other drug with mind-altering effects, ketamine can be physically and/or psychologically addictive, and those with a history of substance abuse will probably not be able to receive it.

At this time, ketamine infusion (injection) therapy shows great promise as a remedy for mood and anxiety disorders, with a capacity to reduce the symptoms of both rapidly and sustainably. Clinics and treatment facilities that offer ketamine for anxiety or depression are growing in number, giving the tens of millions of Americans suffering from anxiety disorders new and exciting options for recovery.


Scientific American: Is Ketamine Right for You?


Ketamine Advocacy Network



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