Anxiety disorders are the most common type of mood disorder. In contrast to everyday anxiety, anxiety disorders are characterized by an excessive, irrational feeling of fear, which interferes with your ability to function normally. In the United States, nearly 40 million people experience an anxiety disorder in any given year.
Even though anxiety disorders are treatable, only about one-third of those suffering from an anxiety disorder receive treatment. If left untreated, anxiety disorders tend to remain, causing unnecessary suffering lifelong. Historically, psychotherapy and other behavioral therapies have been a mainstay of treatment, along with certain types of medications, such as SSRIs and beta blockers, and benzodiazepines (“benzos”). However, these medications are often either ineffective or cause severe side effects.
But now, there is new hope, because Ketamine Infusion Therapy provides rapid and sustained symptom relief in in the majority of those suffering from treatment-resistant anxiety disorders. Ketamine has emerged as a major leap forward in treating these disorders, revolutionizing mental healthcare.
Anxiety disorders commonly occur along with other mood disorders, especially Major Depressive Disorder or MDD, which is seen in as much as 60% of people with anxiety disorders, and Substance Use Disorders (SUD). Other conditions that may cause similar symptoms include hyperthyroidism, heart disease, or anemia. In addition, the use of caffeine, nicotine, alcohol, or cannabis, and withdrawal from certain drugs such as opiates and benzodiazepines.
Anxiety Disorders Include:
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Panic Disorder
- Specific phobias
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is a common disorder, characterized by long-term anxiety, which is not focused on any one object or situation. Those suffering from generalized anxiety disorder experience non-specific persistent fear and worry. GAD is defined as chronic excessive worry accompanied by three or more of the following symptoms: restlessness, fatigue, concentration problems, irritability, muscle tension, and sleep disturbance. Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common anxiety disorder to affect older adults.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD) is described as the avoidance and intense fear of public embarrassment, humiliation, or social interaction. SAD is generally felt in most or all social interactions, as well as specific particular social situations such as public speaking.
This study about Ketamine’s dose-related effects on anxiety symptoms confirmed our clinical experience that ketamine therapy is very effective in reducing the symptoms of Social Anxiety Disorder. In this proof-of-concept trial, 10 of 12 patients demonstrated a clear improvement in their social anxiety and avoidance symptoms.
In panic disorder, a person has brief “attacks” of intense terror and apprehension, often marked by trembling, shaking, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and/or difficulty breathing. These panic attacks, defined as fear or discomfort that abruptly arises and peaks in less than ten minutes, may last for several hours. Panic attacks can be triggered by stress, irrational thoughts, or fear of the unknown. To help prevent an attack, one can avoid the trigger, but not all attacks can be prevented. Sometimes though the trigger is unclear, and the attacks can arise without warning. In addition to recurrent unexpected panic attacks, a diagnosis of panic disorder requires that said attacks have chronic consequences; such as either worry over the attacks’ potential implications, persistent fear of future attacks, or significant changes in behavior related to the attacks.
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder that results from a traumatic experience. Posttraumatic stress can result from an extreme situation, such as combat, natural disaster, rape, hostage situations, child abuse, bullying, or even a serious accident. Symptoms of PTSD include hypervigilance, flashbacks, avoidant behaviors, anger, insomnia, anxiety, and depression.
Traditional treatments for PTSD have included psychotherapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), SSRIs and other medications, and a method of psychotherapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing or EMDR. PTSD research began with Vietnam veterans, as well as natural and non-natural disaster victims.
Phobias mainly affect people between the ages of 15 and 35, and are less common after age 55. The single largest category of anxiety disorders is that of specific phobias, which includes all cases in which fear and anxiety are triggered by a specific stimulus or situation. Between 5% and 12% of the population worldwide suffer from specific phobias. Sufferers typically anticipate terrifying consequences from encountering the object of their fear, which can be anything from an animal to a location to a bodily fluid to a particular situation. Common phobias include germs (“contamination phobia”), flying, driving, and tunnels. With the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many people with a phobia of germs have been especially affected. With exposure to their phobia, sufferers often feel trembling, shortness of breath, or a rapid heartbeat. People understand intellectually that their fear is not proportional to the actual potential danger but are still emotionally overwhelmed by it.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a condition where the person has obsessions (distressing, persistent, and intrusive thoughts or images) and compulsions (urges to repeatedly perform specific acts or rituals), that are not caused by drugs or a physical disorder, and which cause distress or social dysfunction. The compulsive rituals are an attempt to relieve the feeling of discomfort associated with the obsession. OCD affects roughly 1–2% of adults (somewhat more women than men), and is responsive to Ketamine therapy.