Mental Illness and Bipolar Disorder go hand in hand, but a drug called Ketamine is giving those that suffer from bipolar depression a new outlook on life. The drug is being studied in a new trial under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health, (NIH), division of The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS).
Patients suffering from bipolar disorder and depression lose their ability to enjoy pleasurable activities, creating mood swings and other less than attractive behaviors. Understanding how these behaviors begin, and what can be done to reverse the trend, is omnipresent in the minds of doctors and scientists at the NIH.
Bipolar Disorder sufferers know that the Pharmaceutical industry has all but given up on research and development to find new medications to treat the symptoms of the disease. There are no new drugs currently being marketed that afford people with mental health disorders and depression any relief. These facts are even worse for those with treatment-resistant depressive symptoms. But there seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel for these unfortunate people.
Ketamine has been used as a general anesthetic since the 1970’s, and is available by prescription only for human and veterinary surgery. This drug hasn’t been prescribed to treat mental illness or bipolar disorder previous to this study. The potential for abuse is evident, as with all anti-depressants, causing it to be labeled as a “club’ drug. It has been labeled as a Schedule III drug by the DEA, even though it is not technically a narcotic. Ketamine is found as a clear liquid or as a crystalline powder, and can be taken orally or intravenously, as well as being smoked or made into pill form.
Adverse psychological side effects include paranoia, delusions, anxiety, schizophrenia, heart palpations, disorientation, chest pain, delirium and hallucinations. Physiological changes may also occur, and include increased saliva output, a rapid rise in blood pressure readings, a reduced feeling of pain, dehydration, rapid heartbeat, slurred speech and amnesia in some cases.
With all these side effects and the potential for abuse, those with mental illness and bipolar disorder should be seeking other alternatives to treat symptomology. That is why this new trial and study should bear fruit, because is working with a genetic relative of the drug Ketamine, not the actual drug itself.
According to a study published in the journal of Translational Psychiatry, published on Oct 14, study author Dr. Carlos Zarate has indicated some success with this “cousin” of Ketamine, in treating patients with various forms of mental illness The study participants, most of whom suffer from resistant-depression, a hallmark of bipolar disorder, have achieved the ability to enjoy “pleasurable activities” which is lost in most cases.
Participants were given the drug intravenously by researchers, and the results were labeled as “promising”. The resultant decrease in Anhedonia was seen in as little as 40 minutes, and lasted as long as two weeks in most participants. Anhedonia is described as the inability to perceive pleasure from activities normally found enjoyable by the general population.
These findings tend to lead the researchers to believe that the study participants can at some point return to normal activities, with increased motivation to participate in any number of these pleasurable activities, interacting with friends and family on a regular basis. Positive treatment of a mental illness symptom.
Mental illness, and more importantly bipolar disorder symptoms have been ignored for too long. The study of this derivative of the drug Ketamine gives folks with mental health issues a measure of hope.
By Jim Donahue