Wow, ketamine is in the news these days.
It’s being touted as a cure for depression. And not just by the media. We have several small studies being done on resistant major depression patients with good results. But without a defined mechanism, the concept of a depression cure needs a bit more work. Why? Read on.
Another use for ketamine is combining it with opiods for pain relief. In this it seems to help. The combination is really a medical version of what “special K” was used on the street for in the 1990s: as a support for another drug to make its effect more powerful.
But what about the depressed folks? Well, we don’t have a group of patients we can overdose on ketamine, but they did that to a bunch of monkeys (here’s the abstract). The results were not pretty. Ketamine in your brain blocks a receptor “triggering excessive glutamate release and subsequent cortical excitation which may induce psychosis-like behavior and cognitive anomalies. Growing evidence suggests that acute ketamine administration can provoke dose-dependent positive and negative schizophrenia-like symptoms.” So our friends with the sudden improvement in depression may have just been going a different, and not-so-good direction. But that’s just acute use. Chronic use of ketamine generated “accompanied by diminished total movement compared with the controls. Importantly, the mesolimbic, mesocortical and entorhinal-striatal systems were found to be functionally vulnerable to ketamine’s chronic effects. Dysfunctions of these neural circuits have been implicated in several neuropsychiatric disorders including depression, schizophrenia and attention deficit disorder.” Oops. Maybe ketamine isn’t the miracle drug for depression we’d like it to be.
- Is Ketamine a Quick Fix for Hard-to-Treat Depression? (time.com)
- Super Powerful Club Drug Cures Depression Instantly [Science] (gawker.com)
- Ketamine Is the World’s Dumbest Drug (gawker.com)
- Could A Club Drug Offer ‘Almost Immediate’ Relief From Depression? (npr.org)
- Momma Said There’d Be Days Like This (jajsamos.wordpress.com)
- Ketamine: the new Prozac? (themacroscope.wordpress.com)
- Is it safe to use ketamine as a pain drug? (cnn.com)
- Number of ketamine users doubles in four years as young people make horse tranquiliser drug of choice (talesfromthelou.wordpress.com)
- Warning over clubbing drug ketamine (thesun.co.uk)
- Depression (altmedhealthtreat.wordpress.com)
- Most patients need several sequential treatment steps for remission of major depression (medicalxpress.com)