Source: Annais Linares, Reset Ketamine
Recent studies suggest that ketamine infusions may hold potential for those diagnosed with PTSD. Although ketamine has already been used off-label to treat depression, anxiety, and chronic pain, it is becoming clear that patients with PTSD may also benefit from the treatment. According to a recent article published in November 2019, thirty US military veterans with combat-related PTSD who passed a medical screening, were not taking lamotrigine or any monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and did not have psychosis underwent six 1-hour ketamine infusions as part of an observational study.
Each participant received a starting dose of 1mg/kg of body weight, which was then adjusted afterward based on their experiences. The dose was intentionally aimed at creating a psychotherapeutic response – defined as the dose “at which the patient experiences the optimum transpersonal and transformative experience.” The study used a higher dose than other ketamine studies, which typically begin at 0.5mg/kg. Each patient sat on a recliner for the period of the treatment for one hour with a healthcare provider in the room. They stayed in place for approximately 30 minutes after each infusion to recover. Infusions were administered over a two to three week period of time based on the scheduling availability of each veteran. The veterans typically watched nature videos and listened to a relaxing soundtrack during their treatment, with a few exceptions.
The reason for this study was to discover whether ketamine, typically used as an anesthetic, could be used to treat PTSD. Therefore, the veterans were asked to fill out questionnaires related to PTSD, depression, alcohol use, and drug abuse prior to their first and last treatment. The questionnaires showed no increase in depressive symptoms, with 7% of veterans reporting no change. In PTSD symptoms, 10% endorsed an increase in symptoms. Nevertheless, those who benefitted from the ketamine showed a significant decrease of symptoms (~50% reduction). Furthermore, in this study, “’participants were also asked to describe their experience regarding the dissociative and psychomimetic effect of the ketamine and their perceptions of the value of psychotropic therapeutic response as part of their therapy.”