Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, OCD, is a debilitating disorder that can negatively affect a person’s life in many ways. Ketamine, an anesthetic drug used daily in operating rooms and emergency departments across the globe, is proving to be an effective, low-risk treatment for many mood disorders, including OCD.
Life With OCD
Obsessive compulsive disorder can take over a person’s life. The overwhelming need to avoid germs can impede a mother’s ability to change her newborn’s diapers. An obsession with cleanliness can make a person’s hands go raw from scrubbing too hard. Reliance on ritual can keep someone from getting out the door to arrive at work on time. OCD is a truly debilitating disease, and traditional treatments like taking SSRIs and engaging in cognitive behavior therapy only help in about 50% of the cases. There is a great need for new treatment in this area, and ketamine is showing great potential.
Ketamine vs. SSRIs
SSRIs, serotonin reuptake inhibitors, are a class of drugs typically used for treating depression, mood disorders, and other chemical imbalances. They work on upping the serotonin levels in the brain. Ketamine, on the other hand, affects the neurotransmitter called glutamate. Abnormalities in this area have been linked to OCD, though scientists have not yet discovered the exact connections. Regardless, SSRIs, focusing on serotonin levels, have had mixed results with treating OCD, yet ketamine, which affects glutamate, is showing positive results.
How Ketamine Affects OCD Symptoms
Ketamine is not currently approved by the FDA for treatment of OCD, but it is being used off-label by many clinics and physicians across the U.S. with positive results. Outcomes vary, but anecdotal reports include patients being able to use public toilets, shake hands with strangers, and minimize intrusive thoughts after receiving ketamine treatments.
Depression and OCD
Multiple studies regarding the efficacy of ketamine in the treatment of depression. The psychiatric community is excited by the potential in the use of ketamine to alleviate symptoms of OCD. Because depression often goes hand in hand with OCD, it stands to reason that medical professionals are seeking an understanding of what ketamine can do for this disorder that desperately needs a breakthrough treatment.
Ketamine may very well be the drug needed to help break the hold of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.