Ketamine as treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder: a review

Drugs Context. 2019 Apr 8:8:212305. doi: 10.7573/dic.212305. eCollection 2019.


Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continues to make headlines given multiple military engagements across the world and civilian traumas, and resultant PTSD development continues at an even pace. Currently, antidepressant and cognitive-behavioral therapy have the greatest evidence base but still do not yield a remission of PTSD symptoms in many patients. Off-label and novel treatments continue to be considered for more refractory and disabling cases of PTSD. Ketamine is one such treatment that has been discussed and utilized more often for treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD). Its mechanism is controversial regarding its potential to create anxiety, but the perceived benefit of a rapid reduction of symptoms makes it worthy for study in animal models of, and possibly human studies in, PTSD. The current literature and theoretical mechanism of action is discussed in this manuscript.

Keywords: N-methyl-D-aspartate; acute stress; brain-derived neurotropic factor; ketamine; off-label use; post-traumatic stress disorders; psychological substance-related disorders; receptors; stress disorders; traumatic.

Publication types

  • Review