How Ketamine Benefits Cognitive Function

Apr 16, 2024
How Ketamine Benefits Cognitive Function
Ketamine has become known for its effectiveness in treating depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders that don’t respond to traditional therapy. But it doesn't just stabilize moods: It offers cognitive benefits, to

Nearly a quarter of American adults — roughly 60 million people — suffer from mental health disorders, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. While traditional therapies help many people manage their symptoms and improve their lives, these therapies don’t work for everyone, leaving many people to suffer from their symptoms without relief.

In recent years, medical researchers have explored the benefits of ketamine for treating mental health issues, including anxiety, bipolar disorder, and depression that doesn’t respond to traditional therapies. In addition to relieving symptoms, ketamine may also help improve cognitive deficits that can happen in people with long-term anxiety and depression.

At Revival Infusion Madison, Sarah Wilczewski, CRNA, APNP, uses ketamine therapy to help women and men with depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues relieve symptoms and improve their mental health in other ways, too. Here, learn how ketamine may work to improve cognitive function in people suffering from depression and other mental health disorders.

Understanding cognitive function

Cognitive function is the medical term used to describe the processes involved in thinking, reasoning, memory, logic, and concentration. These skills play critical “behind-the-scenes” roles in helping people process information and function normally during everyday activities in every area of their lives, including work, school, social, and family settings.

Most people know brain-related issues like dementia and traumatic brain injury can affect cognitive functioning, impairing memory and interfering with the “normal” ability to think and reason. But what many don’t realize is that long-term depression and anxiety can cause deficits, too.

Many mental health disorders cause changes in brain chemistry — changes that affect the way your nerves communicate and adapt. Over time, these changes can cause a decline in cognitive functioning, as well. 

Cognitive function and mental health disorders

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues take a big toll on neurotransmitters, the chemicals that facilitate signaling and communication between nerves in your brain. These nerves help stabilize mood and support many cognitive functions, too, like memory, time management, and thinking skills.

In fact, brain imaging studies show that long-term depression can have significant effects on the hippocampus, the part of the brain that helps with learning and memory. People with depression often have decreased activity in this region of the brain, and over time, long-term depression can lead to a decrease in the size of the hippocampus, as well.

Many people suffering from mental health issues, like depression and anxiety, complain of “brain fog” that makes it harder to think clearly, plan, and remember. These symptoms make daily living far more frustrating, leading to an increase in anxiety and depression symptoms. What’s more, these changes and experiences occur even among people who respond well to antidepressant medications.

Benefits of ketamine

Ketamine helps relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety, sometimes in just a single session, by optimizing nerve function in your brain. These benefits could also influence cognitive functioning.

Specifically, ketamine infusion increases production of key chemicals that play vital roles in memory and learning. It also helps regulate nerve activity, optimizing nerve communication that helps manage thinking and mood.

Plus, ketamine therapy has been shown to help your brain form new nerve pathways, improving nerve communication and supporting cognitive functions, like thinking, reasoning, and memory. Overall, these functions help improve the neural network in your brain — the same network responsible for mood, logic, memory, and reasoning.

In addition to improving cognitive function in people with mental health disorders, ketamine therapy is also being considered as a therapy for people with other brain disorders, including some types of dementia. Research in this area is in its early stages, but researchers anticipate similar benefits in slowing the progression of cognitive decline.

Find out more about ketamine therapy

Ketamine therapy is usually reserved as a second-line treatment for people who haven’t responded well to other therapies, like medication and psychotherapy. If you’ve been struggling with a mental health issue or if you’re having symptoms of “brain fog,” ketamine could be the solution you’ve been looking for.

To learn more about ketamine therapy, call 608-405-6824 or book an appointment online with the team at Revival Infusion Madison in Fitchburg, Wisconsin, today.