NEW HAVEN, Conn. - One in ten adults in the US suffers from depression. For many, the symptoms are debilitating and the current treatments just don’t work. Researchers say a drug that’s used in hospitals and abused on the streets, may dramatically change your state of mind.
In hospitals, it’s a commonly used anesthetic. In the clubs, ketamine is ‘aka, Special K,’ a popular hallucinogenic drug, but what can make ketamine truly “special” for millions of people, is its potential to, quickly and effectively, treat chronic depression.
“It has been one of the major new findings in the field for at least a few decades,” Doctor Gerard Sanacora, MD., Ph.D., Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University and Director of the Yale Depression Research Program, told Ivanhoe.
Unlike standard antidepressants, which can take weeks or months to work, Yale researchers say ketamine can improve your mood in hours, “by reconnecting brain regions and allowing proper control of mood and emotion," Doctor Ron S. Duman, Ph.D., at Yale University School of Medicine, told Ivanhoe.
Even for treatment-resistant patients. However, researchers are still figuring out how to safely administer ketamine as a routine treatment. “It’s not strongly addictive, but it does have high abuse potential,” Doctor Duman said.
While ketamine is currently not FDA approved for depression, a growing number of private clinics across the country are offering it “off label.” Doctor Gerard Sanacora is concerned. “There are several very important questions that we still don’t know about ketamine and probably the most important is what is the long term benefit? Is repeating dosing of this actually a good idea,” said Doctor Sanacora.
Doctors say the fast-acting quality of ketamine can help save lives of those in danger of committing suicide. Infusions at the private ketamine clinics can run you thousands of dollars, with no guarantee of any results; they’re also not covered by insurance.
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