Ketamine and Anxiety Disorders

Ketamine and Anxiety Disorders

Let’s talk about Ketamine for anxiety.

While most of what we know about ketamine comes from the studies to treat treatment resistant depression, ketamine has also been proven to significantly reduce symptoms of anxiety as well. 

The strongest area of study in the area of anxiety disorders lies within the framework of PTSD and secondarily, social anxiety disorder

While we can look to the research for some hard data points on why ketamine can be helpful for anxiety, we can also talk a bit about the well documented, but not always well understood relationship between anxiety and depression.

We like to call these 2 diagnoses dysfunctionally related, as one can often beget (or cause) the other.  In the context of anxiety, what we typically observe is some maladaptive pattern of thinking that often leads to behaviors of avoidance.  In many scenarios, these behaviors of avoidance often lead to the classic criteria of depression which include lack of motivation, isolation/withdrawal, and diminished interest in activities that were previously pleasurable or preferred.  

Ketamine has been known by some as a great pattern disruptor.  People often find with repeated exposure to ketamine in a treatment setting, they find themselves with a new found perspective on the world, and in many cases, finding different ways to view and thereby solve some of their problems.  Many of the modern theories of psychotherapy are based on cognitive behavioral frameworks, challenging what they call “maladaptive thought patterns”.  To this effect, ketamine can act in itself as a means to help create more flexible thinking, and this is likely due to its positive effect on neuroplasticity in the brain and ability to create novel neural pathways.  Put simply, ketamine can allow different parts of the brain to communicate and can actually make therapy more meaningful and effective.  

It is important to note that while Ketamine Assisted Psychotherapy is the best way to maximize the positive effects of ketamine on the brain, concurrent psychotherapy outside of the ketamine treatment can be significantly helpful as well. As a part of our ketamine program here, we are happy to educate and coordinate with outside therapists of how to best integrate ketamine therapy into their work with a shared patient.


Learn more about Ketamine Therapy at Philadelphia Integrative Psychiatry

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John Guardiani, MA, LPC

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