Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD for short is a debilitating disorder which has adverse affects in life in various ways. It is such a serious condition that it has the potential to take over one’s life. For instance, anyone with OCD would have an overwhelming need to avoid germs. It is this extreme obsession with cleanliness that makes them scrub too hard and constantly want to wash their hands with soap. However, rituals can be relied upon for avoiding the doctor until something serious happens. Traditional treatments such as cognitive behavior therapy and SSRIs might only be helpful in half of the cases. Thus, there is a dire need for a new treatment. This is where ketamine for OCD comes into place. 

What Is Ketamine?

In simple words, ketamine is an anesthetic drug which is used on a daily basis in emergency departments and operating rooms around the world. It has proven to be a low-risk, effective treatment for various mood disorders like OCD. Although the field of mental health treatment has changed significantly in the past decade, OCD requires a different kind of treatment. With new and innovative mental health treatments popping up, it is crucial to choose the right treatment for treating your personal mental health disorder. In order to better understand how ketamine can be effective for OCD, one has to first understand the symptom subtypes of OCD.

Symptom Subtypes of OCD

  • Hoarding: The desire to hoard every item, even those that have no value until the room is filled with items and feelings of sadness when an item is lost, goes missing, or is asked to be thrown. 
  • Symmetry obsession with counting, arranging, and ordering compulsions: This symptom subtype is described by a desire to constantly rearrange things.
  • Obsessions without any visible compulsions: Described by unwanted obsessions over aggressive, religious, and sexual themes. Whatever triggers the behavior is avoided. 
  • Harmful obsessions with checking compulsions: Having thoughts of possible harm to others or themselves. 
  • Contamination obsessions with cleaning and washing: Constant feeling of contamination and germs, and the desire to excessively clean and wash. 

How Can Ketamine Treat OCD Symptoms?

Ketamine is different from SSRIs (serotonin reuptake inhibitors) as it impacts the neurotransmitters known as glutamate. The abnormalities in this area are what cause OCD. However, scientists have still to discover the exact connection between the two. Ketamine shows positive results when it comes to affecting glutamate which plays a vital role in OCD. 

Although Ketamine is yet to be approved by the FDA for OCD treatment, it is used by many physicians and clinics through off-labels and has shown positive results. Some of the outcomes of ketamine include patients using public toilets, minimized intrusive thoughts, and shaking hands with strangers. The psychiatric community is overwhelmed by the great potential of ketamine for alleviating the symptoms of OCD. Since OCD is also associated with depression, there is more research that is being conducted by scientists to develop a breakthrough treatment. Ketamine might just be the ultimate drug for getting out of the grips of OCD.