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November 18, 2022

High Functioning Anxiety: Does Ketamine Help?

High Functioning Anxiety: Does Ketamine Help?

High functioning anxiety is one of the most common ways patients describe their anxiety to me. What is high functioning anxiety, how is it different than generalized anxiety, and can ketamine infusions treat it?

What is high functioning anxiety?

High functioning anxiety is like it sounds: an individual who has symptoms of anxiety but manages to get by in the world. In fact, people around them may not even know they're anxious! On the inside, however, are the classic symptoms of anxiety:

  • Restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Irritability and easy fatigue
  • Pain (headache, sore muscles, belly discomfort, etc.)
  • Insomnia

Despite feeling these "on the inside," my patients are high achievers, with qualities like:

  • High attention to detail
  • Well organized
  • Outgoing and sociable
  • Quick to problem solve
  • Strong leadership skills

Patients with high functioning anxiety can do a good job of hiding their symptoms from those around them.

How is this different than generalized anxiety?

Anxiety activates the "fight or flight response" in our bodies. The "fight" response is often seen in high functioning anxiety and has physical symptoms like:

  • Elevated heart rate (tachycardia)
  • Sweat production
  • Elevated blood pressure
  • Pupil dilation
  • Cold hands and feet from redistribution of blood flow

In generalized anxiety, patients are more likely to activate the "flight" response with symptoms like:

  • Avoidance, distancing
  • Denial
  • Defensive behaviors
  • Sleeping and other recuperative behaviors
  • Disengagement
People with high functioning anxiety tend to activate the "fight" response instead of the "flight" response

What does ketamine do to anxiety?

Ketamine, like other psychedelics, can cause changes to our self representation. This can profoundly help heal anxiety, even though the underlying causes of anxiety can vary greatly in different patients.

In most patients, anxiety is from real or perceived loss of control:

  • Inability to control threats to our health and happiness
  • Not believing you can do what you need to do
  • Doubting what you should do
  • Not knowing what to expect in a situation
  • Feeling uncertain about your safety, health, etc.

While many patients suffer from real lack of control, the majority of patients suffer from perceived lack of control:

  • Inability to control fears or phobias
  • Maladaptive relationships with pain, especially chronic pain
  • Lack of control over health problems
  • Struggles with mental health
  • Difficulty managing relationships, social interactions
  • Many, many more categories
Ketamine can restructure what we perceive to be threatening, thereby healing anxiety

Ketamine and other psychedelics fundamentally alter our relationship with ourselves. By changing our perception of self, ketamine can help change our perceived sense of control. When we change our perceived control, and what we value to control, our sense of anxiety can rapidly change. My patients find incredible success in overcoming anxiety after restructuring their threats to control.

When using intravenous (IV) ketamine, these realizations can be profound and happen quickly under physician supervision. With the right guidance, these infusions can be powerful tools to overcome anxiety and live with more happiness and productivity.

Contact Harmony Infusion and schedule your free consultation to start your healing journey today.

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