New Study Finds that Ketamine Could Be a "Miracle" Treatment for Depression

Only when administered by a medical professional in proper doses
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Masha Lukashenko
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Only when administered by a medical professional in proper doses

Ketamine seems to be rising in popularity, in both recreational and medical usage. Although it is frowned upon by some in the dance music community, it might be a useful treatment for severe depression when administered properly.

The Washington Post has reported that the American Psychiatric Association has received reports on Ketamine's ability to reverse severe depression that normally cannot be effectively treated with typical antidepressants. According to a major study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the industry's leading antidepressants have as much of an effect on severe depression as placebos do. 

Ketamine and Dance Music: The Drug's Surprising Rise In Popularity

L. Alison McInnes is a San Francisco based psychiatrist who has reported long-term success rates of 60% for those with treatment-resistant depression in her 58 patients. She is also a member of the APA's ketamine task force and was assigned to create the protocol for how and when the drug will be administered. 

"The guidelines, which follow the protocol used in the NIMH clinical trial involving Hartman, call for six IV drips over a two-week period. The dosage is very low, about a tenth of the amount used in Anesthesia. And when it works, it does so within minutes or hours."

The studies have reported no evidence of addiction from the low dose infusions, however, clinical trials at NIMH found that there is a relapse which occurs approximately a week after a single infusion. No bladder or cognitive deficit problems, which have been reported to be a common effect of long-term users, have been reported in the low dose trials. 

The Journal of Science previously published a study in 2010 that suggested another benefit of ketamine is that it restores brain function through synaptogenesis. Basically, the drug helps the growth of new synaptic connections through neurons in the brain. 

"Depression is big business. An estimated 15.7 million adults in the United States experienced at least on major depressive episode in 2014, according to NIMH." 

Big business, indeed. Since the use of ketamine in psychiatric treatments is not a universally accepted method, many patients had to find other medical professionals to administer the drug for them. Dennis Hartman, a business executive from Seattle, who suffers from a treatment-resistant depression, found himself flying to New York, twice a month to receive infusions of ketamine from an anesthesiologist willing to do so. 

However, this has raised some concern amongst psychiatrists as the usage of ketamine is projected to grow. David Feifel, the director of the Center for Advanced Treatment of Mood and Anxiety Disorders at the University of California in San Diego stated, "The bottom line is you're treating depression and this isn't the garden-variety depression. The people coming in for ketamine are people who have the toughest, potentially most dangerous depressions. I think it's a disaster if anesthesiologists feel competent to monitor these patients. Many of them have bipolar disorder and are in danger of becoming manic. My question [to anesthesiologists] is: 'Do you feel comfortable that you can pick up mania?'"

It seems that in the next year, ketamine may be more widely accepted as a treatment for severe cases of depression. However, it is still important to remember that the ketamine used in recreational scenarios is not the same as when it is administration by medical professionals. It also begs the question of whether or not ketamine will start becoming much more easily accessible for recreational use, as was the case with many ADHD medications such as Adderall. Only time will tell.

[via: The Washington Post]
[Above Painting: Niedergedrückt by Melancho Blumenbunt]