What is AN?

AN is an eating disorder that predominantly affecting young girls. The symptoms of AN are characterized by self-imposed starvation, an intense fear of weight gain, distorted body image perceptions, and compulsive behaviors related to food and exercise. AN often transforms into a chronic and persistent illness driven by ongoing distress regarding weight and body image. Unfortunately, AN has one of the highest mortality rates among psychiatric disorders. However, there is currently no FDA-approved medication for its treatment, and the efficacy of psychotherapeutic interventions, especially for severe and enduring cases of AN, is limited.

Signs and symptoms

  1. Extremely skinny
  2. Insomnia
  3. Failure to achieve expected developmental weight milestones
  4. Episodes of dizziness and/or fainting
  5. Abnormal blood counts
  6. Fatigue
  7. Thinning and brittle hair
  8. Absence of menstrual periods
  9. Dry or yellowish skin
  10. Irregular heart rhythms
  11. Low blood pressure
  12. Dehydration
  13. Excessive exercise

Consequence without intervention?

Anorexia Nervosa (AN) has one of the highest mortality rates of any psychiatric disorder, with more than 5% of patients dying within four years of initial diagnosis, if left without effective intervention.

Emily’s Journey with Ketamine Infusion for Anorexia Nervosa

Part 1: The Dark Days

In a quiet suburban neighborhood, Emily’s life had been anything but tranquil. She was a 26-year-old woman who had been silently struggling with the grip of anorexia nervosa for several years. Her daily existence revolved around counting calories, excessive exercise, and the relentless pursuit of an ever-elusive goal of thinness.

Despite the desperate prays from her family, Emily’s health continued to deteriorate. Her weight plummeted, and her once-vibrant spirit faded into a hollow gaze. It seemed like there was no way out of the relentless cycle of self-destruction.

Part 2: A Glimpse of Hope

One day, as Emily was visiting her therapist for yet another counseling session, she overheard a conversation in the waiting room. Another patient was excitedly discussing her progress with ketamine infusion therapy. Intrigued, Emily couldn’t help but listen as the woman spoke about how ketamine had transformed her life and offered her hope in her battle against depression.

Part 3: The Decision to Try

Emily couldn’t get the idea of ketamine infusion out of her mind. She decided to research it further and discuss it with her treatment team. After thorough consideration and consultation with her doctors, they agreed to give it a try as an adjunct therapy to her ongoing treatment for anorexia nervosa.

Part 4: The First Infusion

The day of her first ketamine infusion arrived, and Emily felt a mixture of anticipation and anxiety. She lay on the comfortable reclining chair in a serene clinic designed to minimize distractions. The IV was inserted, and the ketamine infusion began.

As the medication started to take effect, Emily felt a profound sense of detachment from her usual obsessive thoughts about food and weight. For the first time in years, she experienced a mental calmness that had long eluded her. The ketamine seemed to provide a respite from the relentless grip of anorexia.

Part 5: Progress and Hope

Over the course of several ketamine infusion sessions, Emily began to notice significant changes in her mindset. The obsessions with food and weight slowly receded, replaced by a newfound sense of self-acceptance and self-worth. She started to regain weight under the close supervision of her medical team, but this time it was different—there was no resistance, no fear.

Months passed, and Emily’s transformation continued. With the help of ketamine infusion therapy and ongoing psychotherapy, she made significant strides in her recovery from anorexia nervosa. Her relationships with her family and friends improved, and her zest for life returned.

Part 6: A Brighter Future

Emily’s story serves as a testament to the potential of ketamine infusion therapy as a complementary treatment for individuals facing the formidable challenge of anorexia nervosa. While it’s not a magical cure, it can offer a glimmer of hope and provide the mental respite necessary to break the cycle of the disorder. Emily’s journey is a reminder that even in the darkest of times, there can be a path to recovery and a brighter future ahead.

The first case study

In a study published in 2020, a 29-year-old woman with chronic AN had undertaken a therapeutic ketogenic diet (TKD), similar to the one used for epilepsy treatment and not intended for weight loss. Within just a few days of starting the treatment, there was a noticeable improvement in her AN-specific symptoms. However, it became evident that the TKD alone was insufficient to achieve complete remission. Consequently, ketamine infusions were introduced into her treatment plan. Following two months of maintaining nutritional ketosis, followed by four sessions of ketamine infusion, she achieved complete remission from AN. Starting with a body mass index (BMI) of 18.2 at the beginning of her treatment, she gained 15 pounds over several months. Patient fully recovered to her normal weight. As of the latest update at 28 months (per personal communications), she continues to adhere to the TKD and remains in complete remission. Read more…

Another case study

In 2022, another clinical trial yielded encouraging findings. The study involved five adults who had successfully recovered their weight after suffering from Anorexia Nervosa (AN). However, these individuals still struggled with lingering thoughts and behaviors related to eating disorders. To address this, they were placed on a therapeutic ketogenic diet (TKD) designed to help maintain their weight. Once they had achieved and sustained a state of nutritional ketosis, these participants underwent a series of six ketamine infusions. The study continued to monitor their progress over a period of six months.

All participants successfully completed the study protocol without experiencing any noteworthy adverse effects. Among them, two individuals continued the therapeutic ketogenic diet (TKD) for a duration of 8 weeks before receiving ketamine infusions, as they had exhibited positive behavioral responses to the diet and chose to stay on it. Meanwhile, three participants adhered to TKD for 4 weeks leading up to and during the ketamine treatment, gradually tapering off after their final infusion.

The group as a whole demonstrated significant improvements in their scores on the Clinical Impairment Assessment. Their weights remained stable, with the exception of one participant who unfortunately experienced a relapse four months after completing treatment and discontinuing TKD. Read more…

The potential benefits of Ketamine infusion for AN

  1. Rapid Reduction in Obsessions and Compulsions: Ketamine infusion has been reported to alleviate obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors related to food and weight in individuals with AN. This can be a crucial step in breaking the cycle of the disorder.
  2. Improvement in Mood: Many AN patients struggle with depression and anxiety. Ketamine’s rapid antidepressant effects may help alleviate these co-occurring mental health challenges, making recovery more attainable.
  3. Enhanced Response to Therapy: Ketamine infusion may augment the effectiveness of traditional psychotherapies like CBT or dialectical-behavior therapy (DBT), allowing individuals with AN to better engage in and benefit from therapeutic interventions.
  4. Reduced Risk of Relapse: AN has a high rate of relapse, even after successful treatment. Ketamine infusion may offer longer-lasting relief, potentially reducing the risk of returning to unhealthy behaviors.
  5. Improved Quality of Life: By addressing the psychological distress associated with AN, ketamine infusion can contribute to an improved overall quality of life for individuals battling the disorder.

Future

It’s essential to recognize that ketamine infusion therapy for AN is still in the early stages of research. While promising, more extensive clinical trials are needed to determine its long-term safety and efficacy. Additionally, ketamine treatment should be administered under the guidance of qualified medical professionals experienced in managing eating disorders.

Anorexia nervosa is a complex and challenging condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The emergence of ketamine infusion therapy offers a glimmer of hope for individuals struggling with AN, providing rapid relief from obsessions and compulsions, improving mood, and enhancing the overall effectiveness of treatment. However, further research is required to establish its long-term safety and efficacy fully.

If you or someone you know is battling AN, it’s essential to seek professional help and explore all available treatment options, including the potential benefits of ketamine infusion therapy under the guidance of a qualified healthcare provider. As our understanding of AN and its treatment options continues to evolve, there is hope for a brighter future for those affected by this challenging eating disorder.

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