Recent Study Shows Ketamine Reduces Symptoms of PTSD

By John Lavitt 06/16/14

The popular club drug has yet again proven its medical worthiness.

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A new study published by Mt. Sinai Medical Center has show how the intravenous administration of ketamine can significantly reduce the symptoms of patients with chronic PTSD.

The study was undertaken by researchers at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City. Given the difficulty of treating post-traumatic stress disorder and the devastating manner in which it cripples sufferers, a breakthrough in effective treatment has been needed for some time. Generated by proof-of-concept, randomized, double blind crossover study, the results of the study could be a significant step in the right direction.

First published online in JAMA Psychiatry on April 16, the original investigation was titled "Efficacy of Intravenous Ketamine for Treatment of Chronic Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - A Randomized Clinical Trial.” The objective of the study was “to test the efficacy and safety of a single intravenous subanesthetic dose of ketamine for the treatment of PTSD and associated depressive symptoms in patients with chronic PTSD.” Rather than focusing on a single type of trauma survivors, the study chose forty-one patients with chronic PTSD and associated depressive symptoms that compromised a range of trauma exposures and causes.

Comparing ketamine with an active placebo control, the study found that the so-called party drug provided immediate, effective relief upon intravenous administration. The ketamine resulted in a significant and rapid reduction in PTSD symptom severity, compared with the placebo, with the patients being assessed 24 hours after infusion. Originally used as an animal tranquilizer, clinical studies involving human beings and ketamine have been few and far between. This study opens the door to further research.

Adriana Feder, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai and the lead author of the study, explained her hopes for future progress.

"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," Feder said. "However, this should be viewed as a proof of concept study. Additionally, longer term clinical trials with ketamine will be required to determine if ketamine will be a clinically useful treatment for PTSD."

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Growing up in Manhattan as a stutterer, John Lavitt discovered that writing was the best way to express himself when the words would not come. After graduating with honors from Brown University, he lived on the Greek island of Patmos, studying with his mentor, the late American poet Robert Lax. As a writer, John’s published work includes three articles in Chicken Soup For The Soul volumes and poems in multiple poetry journals and compilations. Active in recovery, John has been the Treatment Professional News Editor for The Fix. Since 2015, he has published over 500 articles on the addiction and recovery news website. Today, he lives in Los Angeles, trying his best to be happy and creative. Find John on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.