Ketamine for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) features a pattern of unwanted thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead a patient to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). These obsessions and compulsions interfere with daily activities and cause significant distress. 

Experts are not sure of the exact cause of OCD. Genetics, brain abnormalities, and the environment are thought to play a role. It often starts in the teens or early adulthood. But, it can also start in childhood. OCD affects men and women equally. It appears to run in families. 

Obsessions are unfounded thoughts, fears, or worries. They happen often and cause great anxiety. Reasoning does not help control the obsessions. Common obsessions are things like a fixation with dirt or germs or repeated doubts about having turned off the stove. While a patient may know that the thoughts are unreasonable and not due to real-life problems, it’s not enough to make the unwanted thoughts go away. 

Although first-line treatment for OCD has historically included exposure and response prevention behavioral therapy in conjunction with serotonin reuptake inhibitors, there is emerging studies that indicate that Ketamine infusions can be a very effective treatment. Recent studies suggest that glutamatergic neurotransmission contributes to the pathophysiology of the disorder. In these circumstances, ketamine, as a potent N- methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist and glutamate modulator, offers alternative possibilities for OCD treatment.

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