Depression can profoundly impact one's sense of joy and purpose. Some people are so crushed by depression that they find it difficult to eat, work, or leave the house. Statistics reveal that only 20% of those who are depressed receive treatment, and of those, 30-40% will not find relief by using traditional antidepressant medications. However, a new use for a party drug is finding remarkable success in the treatment of depression, producing dramatic results very quickly. While still in the experimental phase of development, ketamine's future as an antidepressant is bright.
Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic, in the same family as phencyclidine (PCP), propofol, and nitrous oxide. It is used in both people and animals for general anesthesia and pain relief, producing a trance-like state of consciousness. Side effects include "out of body" sensations, anxiety, and hallucinations.
Ketamine (often stolen from veterinary hospitals or pharmacies) is also used in party circles, where it goes by the names "Special K" or "Vitamin K." Along with drugs such as MDMA ("Ecstasy"), it is often used by people attending raves or dance clubs. The attraction is that its dissociative effects are heightened by the loud music and bright colors at these venues.
Ketamine's role in depression treatment
How can an anesthetic alleviate depression? Although it may sound strange at first thought, researchers are finding that ketamine not only helps reduce depression, it does so almost immediately. Here's why this drug has the attention of depression professionals:
It often acts in a few hours, with patients reporting nearly complete lifting of depressed feelings.
Effects last several days to a few weeks, allowing mental health professionals to put other treatment methods (such as counseling and support groups) into place while patients are energized to participate.
Because antidepressants usually take a few weeks to reach therapeutic levels in the bloodstream, ketamine also offers a window of improved mood while those medications kick in.
Most notably, ketamine seems to remove suicidal feelings immediately, even if they stem from anxiety or post-traumatic stress rather than depression. Ketamine could save lives.
Current ketamine status
While clinical trials are encouraging, ketamine is not yet approved by the FDA. The administration considers one drug, esketamine, "a potential breakthrough" as it enters Phase 3 trials. Johnson and Johnson plan to file for its approval in 2018. Another variant of ketamine, rapastinel, is in Phase 2 of its trials by another pharmaceutical company.
If you are suffering from depression, it's critical that you seek psychotherapy services. A combination of psychotherapy (which may include both individual and family counseling) and antidepressant medication seems to offer the most successful treatment, especially if you have been depressed for less than two years. Though you won't yet have access to ketamine, pursuing help with traditional methods is the best thing you can do for yourself right now.
While ketamine is not likely to be widely available for another few years, it is a bright ray of hope on the horizon for people suffering from the gloom of depression.
To learn more about psychotherapy services, contact a clinic like Newsome & Associates, Ltd.