A road to recovery and healing from PTSD

Ketamine therapy can help survivors and those affected by moderate to severe trauma get back to living.

Clinical Definition

What is PTSD?

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a condition that arises after a traumatic event is experienced directly by the individual or in witness to the event happening to somebody else. Violence, disaster, sexual assault, and the intensity of experiencing combat can leave deep, invisible wounds for those who become afflicted with trauma-related disorders. Not everybody who experiences a traumatic event is diagnosed with PTSD. When the after-effects of the traumatizing event become long-term symptoms and disruptive to everyday life, then the conditions may be met for a PTSD diagnosis.

It is not uncommon for PTSD to exist alongside depression, anxiety, substance abuse, and behavioral conditions. Generally, psychotherapy and prescription medications are recommended in the treatment of both moderate to severe PTSD. When an individual experiences PTSD, they are intrusively reminded of the traumatic event and can even re-experience it, causing severe physical and emotional responses. It is a tremendously challenging disorder that is treatable thanks to both traditional and more innovative therapies.

    PTSD affects 3.6% of the U.S. adult population. About 37% of those diagnosed with PTSD are classified as having severe symptoms.

    Source: National Institute for Mental Illness (NAMI), 2017 data

    Get help with PTSD

    Signs & Symptoms

    • Re-experience of the traumatizing event (memories, flashbacks, intrusive thoughts, distressing dreams).
    • Avoiding activities, places and physical items that serve as reminders of the event.
    • Persistent negative thoughts about yourself, others, life, or the future.
    • Detaching from relationships and activities.
    • Feeling that you are regularly in danger and unsafe.
    • Hypervigilance, being startled easily, or feeling constantly “on edge”.
    • Aggressive outbursts (physical and verbal).
    • Difficulty sleeping, concentrating, or participating in routine activities.

    Ketamine: Helping Victims of Trauma Heal

    Ketamine, when administered in low doses, has been a landmark therapy in the treatment of moderate to severe PTSD. Ketamine has long been used as an anesthetic to treat battlefield injuries. Physicians began to discover that soldiers who were treated with ketamine compared to other anesthetics, suffered lower rates of PTSD on the whole. This discovery prompted research, development, and clinical trials into the treatment of PTSD utilizing low dosage ketamine therapy, both in conjunction with talk therapy and without it.

    Backed by Evidence

    A notable study was conducted at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai which was the first randomized, controlled trial of ketamine therapy on individuals suffering from chronic PTSD. The authors of the study concluded: "The data presented in our current study not only replicates but also builds on our initial findings of ketamine for PTSD, indicating that in addition to being rapid, ketamine's effect can be maintained over several weeks.”  

    Ketamine has been shown to regrow neural pathways that have been damaged by experiencing severe stress and trauma. While ketamine has consistently demonstrated an uncanny ability to provide rapid relief, investments in clinical research such as the Icahn School of Medicine study make the case for ketamine’s ability to relieve PTSD symptoms over the long term.

    Our Program

    Tripsitter Clinic’s program of physician-directed, therapeutic ketamine may just be the kickstart you need to reduce the debilitating symptoms of trauma-involved disorders and set you on a path towards healing. Regardless of the nature of the trauma, those who struggle with PTSD express a moment where their life completely shifted; a signal that their brain chemistry has also shifted. Significant shifts during the dissociative experience of ketamine are particularly therapeutic as the patient begins to turn their thoughts inward and broaden their perspective, soften judgment, and access locked away emotional responses.

    Approaching Comprehensive Wellness

    PTSD shows up differently in each person it affects. We stress the importance of working with your primary care physician to arrive at the right combination of treatments in order to alleviate the symptoms of trauma-related disorder which would allow an individual to focus on overall health and wellness.

    If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call or text the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free: Call:1-800-273-TALK (8255) Text: HELLO to 741741

    Further Reading

    When you think of post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD, the first group that may come to mind are veterans. Post-traumatic stress disorder is a mental health condition that many military veterans are diagnosed with. But veterans are not the only people who may have PTSD.

    One of the big challenges that face physicians who are treating PTSD is accessing the traumatic memory. There are medications to help reduce anxiety. And there are medications to help relieve symptoms of depression. But symptom management doesn’t help someone with PTSD. It only subdues the severity of the symptoms temporarily.

    Many of the well-known psychotropic medications used to treat anxiety and depression have side effects. Patients can experience a ‘roller coaster’ of emotions as physicians try different prescription medications. 

    Some patients who discover they are treatment-resistant (no other therapies they can try) become at high risk for self-harm. Because making the symptoms go away seems impossible, and patients start to lose hope after years of treatments. With no known cure.

    A new era of mental health treatments has arrived. Psychedelic therapy for PTSD is now a possibility for patients. And oral and nasal administrations as part of a doctor-supervised mental health treatment plan are now available for qualified patients.

    Ketamine represents new hope for patients with treatment-resistant mental health disorders. An affordable, non-invasive, and cutting-edge treatment plan using legalized psychedelic drug therapy. Learn how ketamine can help unlock deeply held trauma and help patients resolve or reduce the symptoms of PTSD with ongoing treatment.

    What Causes Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

    Imagine seeing or experiencing something so terrible that your brain tries to block it out. The memory of the event or repeated events that cause the trauma is often suppressed. Much like how a parent turns off a scary movie for a child, our brains have an ‘off’ switch. 

    It takes a lot to create a deep-rooted trauma. Military veterans are by far the highest population group in the United States to have the condition. That is understandable when you consider the violence that military men and women witness and experience. 

    Post-traumatic stress disorder can be triggered by one single traumatic event or several years of exposure to traumatic events or experiences. What is deeply traumatic to one person may not have the same effect on another individual.

    Some examples of trauma that may cause PTSD include:

    • Personal injury

    • Near-death experience

    • Witnessing violent acts

    • Witnessing a violent death of someone you know

    • Sexual assault

    Women are more than twice as likely to develop PTSD than men are. Women have a 10% chance of developing post-traumatic stress disorder; men have a 4% rate of PTSD diagnosis. According to the Veteran’s Affairs National Center for PTSD[1], sexual assault is the most common traumatic event that causes the condition.

    The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) reports that more than two-thirds of American children experience one major trauma by sixteen. Causes include victimization and violence, bullying, and experiencing natural disasters like floods or hurricanes.

    What are the Symptoms of PTSD?

    Patients who have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder may be aware of some of their symptoms. And take steps to try to reduce their reaction to traumatic triggers and episodes. But many people have PTSD and have never talked to a doctor about it. And others do not know the signs that indicate they have a severe mental health condition.

    The most common symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) are:

    1. Intrusive and Recurrent Memories

    Flashbacks are one of the most upsetting symptoms of PTSD. You know when something is bothering you, and you keep thinking about it over and over again? For someone with PTSD, the memories include sight, smell, taste, and sound. When they have a ‘flashback,’ it happens as a vivid memory. So vivid that the individual feels like they are living that moment again. 

    Because the memory of the trauma event is so upsetting, the person with PTSD may act out physiologically. For example, they may withdraw to a place where they feel safe after having a fear response. Other signs can include crying, sweating, involuntary shaking, and sometimes complete silence. Some people with PTSD can appear catatonic when they are having a flashback.

    2. Avoidance and Withdraw

    When you have PTSD and have been diagnosed with it, you already know what you are dealing with. People who are aware of their diagnosis can understand that certain behaviors are caused by post-traumatic stress disorder. That they are symptoms of a medical condition.

    The symptoms can be humiliating when someone doesn’t know they have PTSD or fully understand the condition. Because someone with PTSD can’t control when flashbacks or other symptoms happen, they could occur anywhere. From the privacy of your own home to a crowded bus, having an episode in front of a crowd of strangers is a real fear.

    When you have PTSD, you cannot predict or control when the recurrent memories will strike. And the trigger for the flashback can be as simple as a smell or a sound that reminds you of the traumatic event(s).

    That is why many people who have PTSD become reclusive and sometimes agoraphobic (afraid to leave home). They may prefer to be somewhere they can control the stimuli to reduce those triggers. At home, for example, they can control what they see, eat, smell, and hear. And also control who comes into their home or safe place.

    When they are anti-social and withdrawing, they can become resentful and even angry at people who do not “leave them alone.” And that can be hurtful and confusing to family members and friends who are concerned and want to help.

    3. Increased Negative Thoughts and Mood

    Having PTSD is exhausting. In fact, chronic fatigue is one of the symptoms. That is because the ‘picture shows’ inside their head? It doesn’t stop when they are asleep. They may experience vivid dreams that replay the trauma event(s) several times a week. 

    Some of the symptoms and outcomes for patients with PTSD include:

    • Feelings of hopelessness about the future

    • Feeling emotional numbness

    • Problems expressing positive or happy emotions

    • Generalized negative thoughts about the world

    • New lack of interest in activities they used to enjoy

    It isn’t hard to feel angry, moody, and dejected when trying to get help for PTSD. The fatigue alone and insomnia are enough to make anyone experience a low mood. When a patient has been struggling with PTSD for a long time without successfully resolving the symptoms? It can lead to increased anxiety and even symptoms of depression.

    4. Changes in Cognitive Processes

    Some symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder can create a chain reaction. The traumatic flashbacks and triggers can make every day challenging and exhausting, especially when nightmares and anxiety make it difficult to sleep. With less rest means other cognitive impairments can occur.

    People with post-traumatic stress disorder may have difficulty focusing and concentrating. PTSD can also impair short-term memory. This can make employment more challenging. Post-traumatic stress disorder does not impact IQ, but it can suppress EQ (emotional quotient) and personal communication skills.

    5. Self-Destructive Behaviors and Self-Harm

    What would you do if you had a mental health condition that made every day difficult? And possibly dangerous? You see, people with PTSD can find it difficult to remain employed because of the unpredictable nature of their symptoms. And patients face stigmas about PTSD that are also prejudiced and negative.

    Some patients that have PTSD report feelings of embarrassment and shame. That is usually after having an episode in front of other people. There is no reason to feel shame because of the symptoms of PTSD, but having other people witness an episode can be very upsetting.

    One of the unfortunate things about PTSD is that it makes patients feel like withdrawing from friends and family. When someone is suffering a trauma, having a support network of people who care can really help. 

    The more someone with post-traumatic stress disorder withdraws, the more likely they will experience severe depression symptoms. And people with unresolved PTSD are also at a higher risk for self-harm and suicidal ideation.

    The most important act of self-care for patients who think they may have PTSD is to discuss their symptoms with a primary care provider (PCP). Post-traumatic stress disorder is a health condition, and there are many ways for patients to get help with symptom management. So that the symptoms of PTSD do not create a lifelong disability or impairment.

    Can you Cure Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

    A diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may not mean a lifetime of symptoms. For some people with mild to moderate trauma, a combination of prescription medications with talk therapy (psychologist or psychiatrist sessions) can help. 

    There is no cure for PTSD. Successful treatment goals for patients are focused on symptom management. Making symptoms occur less frequently is the first therapeutic goal. Over time, the patient progresses with a therapist to decompartmentalize the trauma. And that can help reduce the frequency and severity of PTSD symptoms.

    What Medical Treatments Are Used to Help with Symptoms of PTSD?

    In the human brain, traumas are locked deep within the psyche. Memories that are traumatic and emotionally upsetting can be filed far from the conscious mind. That is how the brain tries to protect itself by filing the trauma memory away in a vault. But unfortunately, memories of the event still manage to seep out.

    Prescription medications combined with psychotherapy are the conventional treatment approaches for patients with PTSD. Psychedelic drugs for PTSD are a new horizon of mental health treatments available for patients who have not achieved symptom relief through other types of therapy. And for some patients, ketamine works faster [2] to reduce symptoms. 

    Do Psychedelics Help with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

    The whole idea of storing a painful memory away seems like it could work. But it doesn’t. It’s similar to ignoring an infection. Without resolving the source of the trauma, the emotional injury continues to fester. And symptoms typically get stronger and more debilitating over time.

    New clinical studies have revealed that psychedelic medications like ketamine can provide a therapeutic benefit for patients. Researchers aren’t 100% sure how it works, but ketamine and other psychedelics seem to unlock the cognitive vault where the trauma has been stored. And when combined with talk therapy and repeated treatments, help the patient resolve the experience.

    That is not to say that psychedelic drugs will erase traumas. But the use of psychedelic medications for mind-broadening meditation is ancient medicine. Ketamine can make it feel safe and relaxing to talk about traumas. And the more a patient discusses a deep trauma (with a mental health professional), the more cognitive healing can occur.

    Which Are the Best Psychedelics for PTSD?

    Ketamine administered orally or through nasal inhalation is a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder that can be done at home. That means there is no need to go into a clinic or doctor’s office to take your dose after the physician has prescribed it.

    That is a good thing because home is a comfortable place. Ketamine is a psychedelic, so there will be a mind-opening period where the patient will feel cognitively relaxed and safe. When administered at home through TripSitter.Clinic, patients will be supervised by a practitioner by video conference to ensure safety.

    Other psychedelic medications used for the treatment of PTSD include MDMA and psilocybin (magic mushrooms). These alternative medications can also be administered intravenously (IV) or in oral drops, dissolvable strips, and intranasal [3] sprays.

    Can I see a Doctor Online for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?

    If you have been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, you may want to try an alternative therapeutic approach with psychedelic medications. If so, you can schedule a virtual medical evaluation with one of our physicians at TripSitter.Clinic

    The health evaluation will review your medical history, current diagnosis and health conditions, and symptoms. At the end of the telemedicine consultation, the physician will decide if ketamine treatments are a safe option for you to explore. And create a treatment plan and prescription for oral or intranasal, or inhaled ketamine.

    If you are a patient that has not yet been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder but you feel you may have the condition, more than one consultation may be required. The first appointment will involve an interview with the physician to determine a diagnosis of PTSD. 

    Low-dose ketamine treatments are safe for the majority of individuals. Those with a history of psychosis or schizophrenia, however, are a poor fit for this particular therapy due to well-documented medical contraindications and will not be approved for treatment during the screening process.