The study of ketamine in the realm of mental health is ongoing. Early results are promising for many disorders, from PTSD to chronic pain and addiction. With demonstrated efficacy in even the most resistant cases, many individuals may be wondering about ketamine’s potential in the treatment of a particularly complicated area of mental health: personality disorders.
What Are Personality Disorders?
Personality disorders describe a group of mental health disorders that are broadly characterized by pervasive patterns of unhealthy thinking and behavior. They are clustered into three groups: A, B, and C. Each cluster shares certain overarching symptoms.
Cluster A Personality Disorders
The Cluster A personality disorders include Paranoid Personality Disorder, Schizoid Personality Disorder, and Schizotypal Personality Disorder. Patients with these disorders often demonstrate unusual or eccentric behavior to the point of delusion. Cluster A patients will often have difficulty establishing and maintaining relationships due to an inability to form emotional connection or due to a general distrust of other people.
Cluster B Personality Disorders
Cluster B personality disorders also involve unhealthy patterns of thinking and behavior, but these patients tend to have an element of impulsivity to their actions. Unlike Cluster A patients, who may often prefer to be alone, Cluster B patients often crave human interaction.
The Cluster B personality disorders are Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Histrionic Personality Disorder, and Antisocial Personality Disorder. All of the Cluster B disorders are characterized by poor relationships, inappropriate emotional response, and unpredictable, sometimes aggressive behavior.
Cluster C Personality Disorders
Cluster C personality disorders are predominantly characterized by irrational fear or anxiety that prevents healthy functioning. The Cluster C disorders include Avoidant Personality Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder (OCPD), and Dependent Personality Disorder. (OCPD is distinct from the anxiety disorder Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), which is characterized by intrusive thoughts and ritualistic behavior.)
Patients with Cluster C personality disorders have a preoccupation with how they are perceived by others. Depending on the diagnosis, these patients may avoid people entirely, attempt to control them, or be completely physically and emotionally dependent on them.
How are Personality Disorders Usually Treated?
Personality disorders have, historically, been difficult to treat. In certain cases, such as with many Cluster B patients, a lack of self-awareness means many of these individuals do not feel the need to seek treatment in the first place.
In other cases, as with Cluster A and C patients, individuals may be too anxious to seek outside treatment or have such strong delusions that they feel they simply cannot trust someone to help them.
The first line of treatment for personality disorders has traditionally been psychotherapy, or talk therapy. Antidepressant medication may also be beneficial for certain accompanying symptoms, such as anxiety or sleep disturbances. Those with Cluster A symptoms may require further pharmaceutical intervention in the form of antipsychotics.
Treating patients who do not view their behavior as disruptive is, needless to say, complicated. The goal of treatment is often to address certain patterns of behavior rather than the disorder itself. Personality disorder patients must learn to recognize specific behaviors and responses as inappropriate and work to modify them.
Can a Personality Disorder Be Cured?
Personality disorders do not go away. They can be well-managed, provided the patient is willing to work with a therapist and continually address certain behaviors. This can be an arduous process and requires a significant amount of trust from a person who is taking someone’s word for it that their behavior is problematic. This begs the question: are there any other options for treating a personality disorder?
Ketamine for Personality Disorders
Those who have been impacted one way or another by a personality disorder know the havoc they can wreak on relationships. It is no surprise that we need and want a treatment that has better and faster results.
Research on ketamine for personality disorders is in very early stages. Like many mental health disorders, the complicated nature of personality disorders does not lend itself to a single treatment. This is not to say that ketamine could never prove beneficial for certain personality disorders, however. Suicidal tendencies are present in a number of personality disorders, namely Borderline Personality Disorder. Esketamine is federally approved for acute suicidal ideation and could form part of a treatment program for personality disorder patients with a history of suicide attempts or self harm.
Ketamine may also prove useful in treating addiction, depression, and other symptoms in certain personality disorder patients.
You could reasonably argue that addressing certain urgent symptoms, such as suicidal ideation, in patients with personality disorders may ultimately improve their success with talk therapy and other traditional methods. It will be interesting to see how this area of mental health develops as we continue to discover and investigate new approaches to treatment.
Ketamine Clinic Destin
The Crane Center in Destin offers ketamine therapy to qualifying patients. If you are interested in ketamine assisted psychotherapy for anxiety, depression, or another mental health disorder, contact our office to schedule an appointment. Our compassionate mental health counselors will work with you to determine if ketamine is right for you and help you start the path to healing.