Ketamine Proven Helpful in Treatment of Depression

KetamineA new study, done by researchers in Britain, has proven that Ketamine, also known as the notorious party drug, ‘Special K’, can be helpful in the treatment of depression. Researchers tested the drug on 28 people with major depression disorder in a clinical setting, many of them who had tried different treatments with no results in the past. Of those people, eight patients found that Ketamine quickly relieved the symptoms of depression. Nearly 30 percent of patients in the Ketamine study saw results that lasted up to three weeks, and 15 percent of patients had a positive outcome of two months or more. That makes Rupert McShane, leader of the study, and consult psychiatrist and researcher from Oxford University, very excited.

However, Ketamine is far from a cure-all. Many of the test patient’s symptoms relapsed within a day or two. Beyond that, Ketamine is not a treatment ready for the market yet. McShane’s next step is to take a small amount of carefully monitored patients and build up more clinical experience with Ketamine. By integrating other licensed drugs and imparting them into different regimens, McShane hopes to find a way to lengthen the dramatic effects Ketamine has on individuals with major depression disorder. But, for those who saw momentous change, there is hope.

Ketamine was developed in 1962, and was originally used for a general anesthetic, but in the 1970’s and 1980’s, Ketamine became an illicitly used drug, earning itself the name ‘Special K.’ Due to wide-spread use of the drug for recreational purposes, in August 1999, the federal government classified Ketamine as a schedule III controlled substance. Ketamine also has hallucinatory effects that can last up to an hour and can impair your judgement for up to 24 hours after being taken. With those issues, it makes it easy to see why Ketamine must be controlled carefully, and under the supervision of a professional.

Because a large amount of people with major depression disorder have symptoms that fail to respond to main-stream depression medications like Zoloft and Prozac, research teams have been studying the effects of Ketamine for some years. Mount Sanai Medical Center based in New York led a 2013 study in which 64 percent of the 72 patients studied saw effective results within 24 to 48 hours, and a 2012 Yale study also noted that Ketamine has been proven to be helpful in the treatment of depression by aiding in the release of the neurotransmitter glutamate.

McShane’s study was published in the Journal of Pharmacology stating that up to six low doses, only 80 thousandths of a gram, can be administered, or infused, every week in a clinical setting, to patients who continue using their normal antidepressants. This is several grams less than that used by recreational users, so as to avoid the severe bladder issues and memory problems that are associated with over-use of the drug.

Armed with the knowledge that Ketamine has proven helpful in the treatment of depression, drug-maker, Johnson and Johnson is excited too. They are already in the process of creating a nasal spray form of the drug, called esketamine, which has shown promise in its mid-stage trials. So, while there is still much to be studied and learned about this possible depression quick-fix, Ketamine has allowed us to take another step in the trek up the mountain of mystery that is major depression disorder.

Editorial by Melissa White-Jantzen

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