Ketamine vs. SGB for Anxiety Relief

Both Ketamine and stellate ganglion block (SGB) have been used as methods of pain relief as well as anesthesia by medical practitioners for quite some time. Another common application of these substances is to help treat the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Although used for common purposes, these two types of medication are not exactly interchangeable. In fact, they have some stark differences that should be taken into consideration if you are looking for medication-based treatment options for your PTSD or for overcoming anxiety.


The first thing that you should take into account when trying to understand the differences between these medications are the ways they have been used in the past. The SGB injection has been utilized as a pain relief option since the early 1900s and has been quite effective for such purposes. Administered by injection to a specific region of nerves in the neck, using the SGB injection for anxiety has shown great promise as a PTSD breakthrough injection for more than a decade.

Ketamine has a reputation for being used as a recreational drug in the nightclub scene. When taken in high doses it can result in hallucinations and alterations in the way one perceives light and sound. Administered by the right hands, however, smaller doses of ketamine can actually prove to be extremely effective in treating PTSD.


As with any course of medical treatment, one should always weigh the risks involved with taking any form of medication. The risks associated with each of these drugs can range from the mildest of side effects to serious complications.

Ketamine should never be taken in high doses because of its hallucinogenic properties. Those who have experienced the high that results from taking too much ketamine report difficulties in speaking or moving, both impairments being dangerous for obvious reasons. Side effects of taking the drug in a small dose for PTSD treatment, though, include heightened blood pressure and cystitis.

In addition, since ketamine is a hallucinogenic drug there’s a risk of a patient becoming psychologically dependent on the drug after long-term use. Since ketamine’s effects as a PTSD treatment are short, more treatments are needed. That exposes the patient to a higher risk of dependence.

Patients who stop using ketamine after long-term use may also go through withdrawal and experience stronger anxiety along with insomnia, depression, and flashbacks. Bladder and kidney problems have also been reported as side effects of ketamine withdrawal.

The SGB shot for anxiety presents virtually no side effects to the patient and is administered by a qualified physician using an X-ray or ultrasound to make sure the injection is placed properly. By administering in this way, the risks associated with such a treatment can be greatly reduced. The stellate ganglion block for anxiety also has no dependence and requires fewer treatments compared to ketamine because its effects last much longer.


The FDA approved the use of ketamine to treat depression in 2019. For such a purpose, it is administered via a nasal spray in small doses. Through this type of administration, this medication presents most patients with relief from their anxiety within a few hours.

Moreover, the effects of a single dose of the drug can last for over a week. Because of the risks associated with ketamine, though, patients who receive this anxiety attack treatment will only be permitted to do so under the direct supervision of a physician and will be monitored closely for two hours after the dose is given.

The stellate ganglion block injection for anxiety generally results in relief from PTSD symptoms within a few hours, or at the most a few days. The effects of the anxiety therapy procedure, which include feelings of peacefulness and the ability to sleep better, can last for several months or years after the injection is done. Best of all, the procedure is simple and can be done by a licensed medical professional in a clinic like PTSD Group.

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