Anxiety disorders are mental health conditions that cause feelings of irrational fear or anxiousness.
The American Psychological Association defines these disorders as feelings of tension and disordered or worried thoughts, accompanied by physical changes like increased blood pressure and breathing rate.
Everyone is anxious at some time or another — it’s a natural stress response. But persistent anxiety or irrational worrying can indicate a mental health condition that needs professional management.
While there are both pharmacological and psychological treatments for anxiety disorders, not everyone responds favorably to them. At ReYou, we offer ketamine therapy as an alternative option for those who haven’t seen success with more conventional therapies.
If you’re feeling anxious all the time, here’s what you need to know about the condition and how ketamine therapy can help.
What is anxiety, and how does it manifest?
Anxiety is a normal reaction to potentially harmful triggers. The human instinctive fight-or-flight response evolved to prepare the body to confront or run from a potential danger, such as a big-toothed animal or a person holding a weapon.
Your body releases a flood of the hormone adrenaline, which increases your heart rate and puts your senses on alert. Once you’re out of immediate danger, the anxiety disappears.
Or at least it should.
Running from a predator was critical to the survival of early humans, but in today’s world, the bulk of stress comes from work, finances, health, and the like, none of which requires a fight-or-flight response.
Yet some people can’t shake the anxious feelings, and they descend into a spiral, panicking at anything and everything their brains tell them are threatening, even when they’re not.
Common symptoms of anxiety include:
- Constant restlessness
- Feeling nervous or on edge
- Uncontrollable worrying
- Difficulty focusing
- Difficulty falling or staying asleep
The standard first-line treatment is some form of medication (often repurposed from other conditions) combined with one or more forms of psychotherapy.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy, which aims to change behavioral responses to potential triggers, is a commonly used modality, as is exposure and response prevention, where you confront the cause of your anxiety but don’t allow it to take over.
That all sounds well and good, but the truth is some 30-40% of people don’t respond to first-line treatments, or they have too many side effects from the medications. That leaves them spiraling out of control without any good options. And that’s where ketamine comes in.
How ketamine works
Ketamine works on a group of brain cells called NMDA receptors, which interact with neurotransmitters such as glutamate to increase nerve cell communication.
But if the nerves remain in an excited state for too long, they start to die off, leading to a cascade failure that triggers depression or anxiety. Both anxiety and depression have been linked to NMDA receptor malfunction.
In the brain, ketamine works directly to block the NMDA receptor signals; that allows the brain to create new pathways and synapses, circumventing the problem.
Ketamine also blocks glutamate so it can’t trigger the NMDA receptors. Instead, it causes the release of other molecules that benefit mood, thought patterns, and cognition.
The ketamine infusion
A standard antidepressant takes about 6-12 weeks to form new brain synapses; ketamine can do the same thing within 24 hours. That means a more immediate improvement in your symptoms and mood.
At ReYou, we even make our infusion process calming. We use an intravenous infusion to administer the ketamine directly into your bloodstream as you lie back with eyeshades on and music playing, heading into a trance-like state.
Our medical team supervises you the entire time to ensure you remain comfortable and safe.
We usually recommend 6-8 infusions over 3-4 weeks to maximize results, and the effects are long-lasting.
If you’re anxious all the time, you can find help and hope at ReYou in Howell, New Jersey. Contact us today by phone or online to schedule a consultation with one of our ketamine specialists.