Best known as a club drug, ketamine seems somehow able to jolt people out of severe depression. New Scientist investigates in the following well-written article.

“FOR MANY, it was a huge, obvious effect,” says psychiatrist John Krystal. “One of the patients said, ‘Don’t give me those old medications, I want this again’.”

Krystal, a professor at Yale University, is talking about the time he gave seven severely depressed patients ketamine, a mind-blowing drug developed as an anaesthetic but better known as a club drug. It was a long shot, but the results were astonishing. Though most of the patients found the ketamine experience itself unpleasant, once it wore off they had a far better feeling: the disabling and suicidal depression they had lived with for years had vanished.

Krystal’s pioneering experiment happened in the late 1990s, but now researchers at the US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland, have repeated the study and the results have got psychiatrists, neuroscientists and drug companies buzzing. An antidepressant that acts in hours rather than weeks …


That’s why the ketamine results are creating such a stir. “This is a hot topic and people are very interested in it,” says Lisa Monteggia, a neuroscientist specialising in depression at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas. “The implications are huge.” “It’s very intriguing,” agrees Lee Schechter, director of preclinical depression and anxiety research at Wyeth Pharmaceuticals in Princeton, New Jersey. Research on rapid antidepressants is now “an area of focus within the industry,” he says.

Via New Scientist
Previously posts on Animam Recro:
Ketamine: Possibly fastest-acting antidepressant ever tested
Another Ketamine Antidepressant Article