Ketamine and anxiety disorder

Category: Blog Ketamine Mood Disorders Psychedelic therapy
Anxiety is one of the leading concerns related to global mental health. It severely threatens patients’ mental health by inducing […]

Anxiety is one of the leading concerns related to global mental health. It severely threatens patients’ mental health by inducing uncontrolled emotional susceptibility and sudden mental breakdowns. Anxiety is not a gender-specific or age-specific disorder, so patients with anxiety may have a wide range of similar or differential symptoms. This may include experiencing anxiety, recurrent anxiety attacks, losing concentration, and uncertain phobias.¹

Anxiety is a threat that may lead to severe mental health issues such as PTSD, MDD, and OCD. Treatment of anxiety is usually done by using anxiolytic agents along with psychotherapy. Besides the standard treatment, Ketamine has surprisingly shown positive results in treating anxiety disorder.¹

Ketamine is a well-known dissociative drug having an anesthetic action. Since Ketamine can sedate the mind, it is infamously used by the party people to get high. However, recent scientific research studies have been conducted to check and confirm the positive effects of Ketamine in treating anxiety disorder.²

Anxiety and depression are often treated under a similar equation. Mainly because whenever the glutamate system is affected, even a tiny increase or decrease in the level of brain signals can disturb patients’ mental health. Thus, Ketamine working on the GABA systems is used in the treatment of both anxieties as well as depression.³

Ketamine might not have much potency, but it has better efficiency than other antidepressants and analgesic agents.

Ketamine as an Anxiety drug

Usually, patients who have surgeries are given Ketamine as an anesthetic agent. So, Ketamine already has a sound medical significance. Due to the calming effect ketamine produces in relaxing the stressful mind, some doctors prescribe it for anxiety treatment. The antidepressant effect produced by Ketamine lasts for one or two weeks after a single transfusion dose.³

Multiple clinical and hospital trials have been conducted to support the beneficial effects of Ketamine as an anxiolytic drug. It was found that Ketamine, when given as transfusions, can treat hyperactivity and treat anxiety symptoms. In most regions, people already use Ketamine as a traditional anxiety medicine.⁵

Ketamine as an Anxiety Drug


How does Ketamine work to Treat Anxiety?

Ketamine, with its popular sedative hallucinatory action, gives a rapid-acting solution for treating anxiety. When administered intravenously, Ketamine proved to be an excellent anesthetic drug with high bioavailability. No wonder people have been using Ketamine as an off-label treatment for reducing anxiety since the 1990s.⁴

Ketamine works by decreasing the pain responses and increasing the calming brain chemicals. It improves the patient’s mood because it blocks the NMDA receptors, blocking the brain’s pain perception ability. Moreover, Ketamine repairs the degenerative neurons repairing the neuronal synapse mechanism. This results in increased levels of glutamate in the brain region, which produces rapid anxiolytic action as compared to other antidepressants.²,4

Ketamine as an Anxiety Drug



Officially, Ketamine is approved by the FDA to be used as an anesthetic agent, but scientific studies have shown its positive effects in treating anxiety. A significant debate has been going on for its approval to be used to treat anxiety disorder and its symptoms. It may also be suitable for curing treatment-resistant depression.⁵


  1. Rosario B Hidalgo et al. Handb Clin Neurol. 2012. Generalized anxiety disorder, Handb Clin Neurol. 2012;106:343-62. doi:10.1016/B978-0-444-52002-9.00019-X
  2. P Zanos et al. Mol Psychiatry. April 2018, Mechanisms of ketamine action as an antidepressant. Mol Psychiatry . 2018 Apr;23(4):801-811. doi: 10.1038/mp.2017.255. Epub 2018 Mar 13.
  3. Jennifer Swainson et al. Can J Psychiatry. February 2021, The Canadian Network for Mood and Anxiety Treatments (CANMAT) Task Force Recommendations for the Use of Racemic Ketamine in Adults with Major Depressive Disorder, Can J Psychiatry. 2021 Feb;66(2):113-125. doi: 10.1177/0706743720970860.
  4. Carolyn I Rodriguez, Lawrence S Kegeles, et al., 2013, Randomized Controlled Crossover Trial of Ketamine in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Proof-of-Concept, Neuro psychopharmacology, Volume 38, pages 2475–2483
  5. Adriana Feder, Michael K. Parides, James W. Murrough, et al., June 2014, Efficacy of Intravenous Ketamine for Treatment of Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, A Randomized Clinical Trial, JAMA Psychiatry. 2014;71(6):681-688. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.62
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