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Ketamine Infusions Used to Treat Symptoms of PTSD in Combat Veterans

Updated: Sep 20, 2023

In 2019, The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense updated their guideline for screening veterans for suicide risk. The new guideline includes a recommendation to use ketamine infusions to treat suicidal ideation and major depressive disorder in veterans.

Combat veterans are at a high risk for developing post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Ketamine infusions are an effective treatment for numerous mental health conditions, and are gaining traction among veterans for their immediate results and nonaddictive nature.

In this observational study conducted in 2019, 30 US military veterans with combat-related PTSD underwent a series of six 1-hour ketamine infusions. The veterans were given a series of self-reported questionaries, and reported immediate improvement to their symptoms of PTSD.

Additionally, substance abuse was measured as part of the study. Historically, substance abuse has been linked to PSTD, known for some as an environmental symptom of the disorder. As participants in this study self-reported on symptoms, the report shows that while substance abuse did not dramatically decrease during the period the study was taking place, ketamine infusions did not predispose patients to an increased substance use. In fact, substance use did trend downward slightly. Some of the participants even reported a decreased desire to consume alcohol after their ketamine infusions. These results are important to note specifically, given ketamine’s reputation as a ‘party drug.’

In clinical settings, like that at Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers, ketamine infusions are given at low doses and under medical supervision - there is virtually no potential for addiction or abuse.

From this study, researchers concluded that there is evidence demonstrating the role ketamine infusions can play in treating PTSD in combat veterans. “There is a rapidly growing body of literature showing that ketamine is a safe, effective, and novel therapy for PTSD. Given the alarming number of veteran suicides in the United States, a more effective means for treating PTSD and TRD [treatment-resistant depression] is urgently needed,” the research team noted.

Curious about ketamine infusion therapy?

Ketamine infusion treatments should always be used in additional to traditional psychotherapy. Most of our patients continue with their primary psychiatrist or primary care doctor, and are highly encouraged to either begin or continue talking with a therapist.

Results from a single infusion session typically last anywhere from a few days to up to two weeks. A series of six infusions, which we recommend for those eligible for treatment, can last from weeks to months. For patients on a six infusion basis, booster infusions can be provided as well. Results will vary from patient to patient.

While ketamine has been used in a variety of medical settings for suicidal ideation, treatment-resistant depression, chronic pain, and more, ketamine is absorbed by the body very differently and unreliably when taken orally or nasally. It is most effective when given intravenously under a physician’s care.

Side effects are uncommon with ketamine infusions. Most of our patients at Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers report a tingly feeling during the infusion. In the study summarized above, combat veteran participants reported occasional nausea, but experienced no adverse side effects or vital sign abnormalities.

Where can I get ketamine infusions?

We have centers based in Bethesda, Rockville, Columbia, Vienna, Reston, and Marshall. Our practice was founded by Dr. Aubrey Verdun, MD. Dr. Verdun is a double-board certified anesthesiologist and pain management physician.

Freedom Ketamine Treatment Centers offers ketamine treatments as outpatient infusion procedures, which occur after an initial intake consultation to determine the appropriateness and safety of the treatment. From there, patients are guided through each step of the process by a physician, and monitored throughout the treatment. If you are interested in determining whether this option is right for you, call us at 301.235.9022 to schedule a consultation today.

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