Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a chronic and disabling condition that arises after exposure to a shocking, scary, or dangerous event. It is characterized by persistent re-experiencing (flashbacks, nightmares), avoidance, and hyperarousal symptoms (severe anxiety) that can be extremely disruptive. The prevalence is approximately 7.8% in the general population.1
Because ketamine is associated with psychotomimetic effects, there was initial concern that it may increase the incidence of PTSD when used intraoperatively. Contrary to expectations, a study showed that U.S. service members receiving perioperative ketamine were found to have a lower prevalence of PTSD than those receiving no ketamine during their surgeries.2
Subsequently, when low dose ketamine infusions were administered to patients with chronic posttraumatic stress disorder, there was a rapid reduction in core PTSD symptoms that frequently lasted from 24 hours to 2 weeks.1 Additionally, it was noted that ketamine for posttraumatic stress disorder was well tolerated without significant persistent dissociative symptoms.