Ketamine & PTSD – What Does the Research Show
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental illness that involves individuals who have been subjected to some variety of trauma either as a result of a single incident or due to prolonged exposure. Individuals with PTSD feel overwhelming and debilitating fear and anxiety and often feel that they are re-living the cause of their trauma over and over again. It is quite common for this kind of acute PTSD to disturb the individual’s ability to perform their day-to-day activities. Because of PTSD’s ability to make people feel chronically ‘on edge’ and tense, people experiencing PTSD often feel exhaustion, depression and eventually describe feelings of ‘numbness’. Naturally, the medical field has been in search of the most effective treatment for PTSD.
Ketamine Trials Have Revealed its Ability to Reduce the Severity of PTSD Symptoms
While few pharmacotherapies have proven to be effective in the treatment of PTSD, the following was said about a recent and successful study of the benefits of ketamine for treating PTSD: “These findings may lead to novel approaches in the treatment of chronic PTSD ― a condition that affects a broad spectrum of adults in the United States and beyond, including victims of sexual assault, war veterans, those who have witnessed catastrophic events such as the September 11 terror attacks, and others,” Dr. Feder, associate professor of psychiatry, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai.”. This was a proof-of-concept study conducted in April of 2014 which built on prior research that had shown that ketamine was effective in helping treatment-resistant depression.
Further studies emerging in 2014 showed that ketamine may be able to reduce the debilitating nature of some of the symptoms associated with PTSD. A randomized clinical trial of ketamine in June 2014 was conducted on a group of individuals with PTSD, the results showed a “primary outcome measure was change in PTSD symptom severity”. Furthermore, Barbara Rothbaum, PhD, head of Emory University’s trauma and anxiety recovery program in Atlanta said:
“Ketamine has been shown to be helpful for depression and obsessive compulsive disorder, but this is the first time it has been shown to be helpful for PTSD”.
The full results of the 2014 randomized study are publicly available to be read here but the main result of the trial was: “Ketamine infusion was associated with significant and rapid reduction in PTSD symptom severity, compared with midazolam, when assessed 24 hours after infusion (mean difference in Impact of Event Scale-Revised score, 12.7 [95% CI, 2.5-22.8]; P = .02).”.
Ketamine May Play a Part in Treating PTSD
Each case of PTSD is unique and ketamine may not always be the cornerstone of an effective treatment plan. However, ketamine has proven itself to be an effective tool for psychiatrists and medical practitioners to have access to when suitable candidates emerge.
If you have more questions about ketamine and PTSD, I will be happy to answer them. Please call me at (917) 609-4990 or email me at Amanda.firstname.lastname@example.org for general questions.
Dr. Amanda Itzkoff
My name is Amanda Itzkoff, MD. I am a New York City based Psychiatrist and Assistant Professor at Mount Sinai Medical Center.
For additional information, please feel free to email our office at Amanda.Itzkoff@gmail.com.
To schedule an appointment, call our offices at 917-609-4990.