It’s quite unbelievable to say the least that one of the least expected solutions to treating severe depression could be psychedelic party drug ketamine. The drug, according to Science Alert has proven to be a more effective treatment for severe depression than traditional antidepressants and mood stabilizers. So effective is ketamine that where other traditional treatments have taken awhile to work and probably failed to work in some cases; it has shown to treat symptoms of depression within a couple of hours.
“It’s not subtle. It’s really obvious if it’s going to be effective,” Enrique Abreu, a Portland-based doctor who began treating depressed patients with ketamine in 2012, told The Washington Post. “And the response rate is unbelievable. This drug is 75 percent effective, which means that three-quarters of my patients do well. Nothing in medicine has those kind of numbers.”
Ketamine, which is also known as Special K, first came to the fore as an hallucinogenic club drug in the 60s, but has since become an ever-present in emergency rooms as a quick and easy anaesthetic. It is being used as an anaesthetic for children with broken bones, during emergency surgery in war zones, and has also been used on patients in burn centres as a sedative.
However, the past decades have seen researchers trying to focus on ketamine’s huge potential in the treatment of mental health issue. Psychiatrists are now trying to come up with a solution to severe depression where available medications have failed to offer desired impact.
“Since 2006, dozens of studies have reported that it can also reverse the kind of severe depression that traditional antidepressants often don’t touch,” Sara Solovitch reports for The Washington Post. “Experts are calling it the most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century.”
Current treatment for severe depression is not only regarded by most people as taken too long to provide treatment, but offers no guarantee of being able to have desired effect in the end. Many people with severe depression have also described selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which is the treatment currently being used as irritating, as they are meant to take three to eight weeks to have expected effect. This makes more research inevitable.
As we reported back in July, SSRIs are believed to work by limiting the reabsorption of serotonin into the brain’s presynaptic cell, and this readjustment of serotonin levels appears to help the brain cells send and receive chemical messages more effectively, which can boost a person’s mood.
The issue with SSRI is that everyone has a different chemical make-up, and it is basically a case of trial-and-error to see which one offer more benefit or mess with your unique brain chemistry, reports Science Alert. Besides, SSRI are also known to cause a wide range of negative side effects, including nausea, reduced sexual desire, dizziness, insomnia, weight gain, erectile dysfunction and drowsiness.
Various academic medical centres in the United States are now stepping up the use of ketamine as treatment for patients with severe depression. Institutions already trying this out include; Yale University, the University of California at San Diego, the Mayo Clinic, and the Cleveland Clinic.