By now, many people with anxiety and depression have heard that ketamine therapy can help treat mood-related symptoms. However, what many people don’t know is that ketamine therapy can help with cognitive function as well, especially in people who suffer from the disorders listed above.
At Bowman Medical Group in Beverly Hills, California, our team uses ketamine therapy to help people with depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and anxiety improve their lives. In this post, we explain some key ways that ketamine therapy can help improve cognitive function.
Defining cognitive function
Loosely defined, cognitive function includes “brain-based” skills, such as learning, memory, recognition, logic, reasoning, information processing, and attention. While it’s easy to take these skills for granted, there are medical issues that can have a profound effect on cognition and our ability to apply cognitive processes.
At the most severe end of the cognitive spectrum, conditions, such as traumatic brain injury, Alzheimer’s disease, and other types of dementia, can cause physical changes to the brain that permanently alter cognition.
However, there are many issues that cause cognitive problems that can be treated with therapy. For instance, many women in or near menopause experience increased forgetfulness or mild confusion associated with a decline in estrogen. The brain may eventually adapt to these changes, but hormone replacement therapy can also be used to help restore these cognitive functions.
Interestingly, these types of cognitive problems can also occur in people with clinical depression. But, instead of being related to changes in hormone levels, these cognitive changes are triggered by chemical changes that occur with depression and anxiety.
Depression, anxiety, and your brain
Depression and anxiety cause changes in the levels of chemicals called neurotransmitters. These chemicals support signaling between nerves in your brain. These nerves are responsible for your mood and many of your cognitive functions as well.
While most people are familiar with the mood-related effects of anxiety and depression, many people are unaware of the potential cognitive effects.
In fact, many people with these disorders also suffer from bouts of “brain fog” that make daily tasks much harder and more frustrating. In turn, these troubles can enhance feelings of hopelessness, fear, and low self-worth, which can create a damaging physiological cycle. Interestingly, these cognitive issues can persist even in people who otherwise respond well to antidepressant therapy.
How ketamine therapy helps
In addition to improving the mood-related symptoms of depression and anxiety, ketamine can also support better cognitive function. Researchers believe this benefit is related to the way ketamine affects neural activity in the brain.
Specifically, ketamine has been shown to increase the production of brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF), which is a chemical that plays a key role in cognitive functions, such as learning and memory. Other research shows that ketamine acts like a “switch” to turn on and turn off neural activity, helping to normalize nerve-to-nerve communication that plays a role in mood and thought.
And finally, ketamine also supports the development of new pathways for nerve communication, which is a process called synaptogenesis. This change can improve the communication necessary for normal cognitive function.
Taken together, ketamine can help improve a person’s cognitive and emotional health.
Learn more about ketamine therapy
Ketamine therapy typically isn’t provided as a first-line treatment for people with depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other psychiatric disorders. Instead, it’s usually used when medication therapy proves ineffective.
If you’re struggling with depression, anxiety, or PTSD, ketamine therapy could be the solution you’re looking for. To learn more, call 310-276-4003 to book an appointment with Bowman Medical Group today.