“The illegal party drug ketamine is an ‘exciting’ and ‘dramatic’ new treatment for depression” BBC News
It’s estimated that 1 in 10 people in the U.S. suffer from some sort of depression – with women being twice as likely to suffer symptoms of depression than men of the same age. An unlikely solution to the problem, however, may come in the form of the illegal ‘party drug’ – ketamine.
Recent UK studies have reported dramatic depression relief within hours of a single dose of the illegal substance – the effect appearing stronger and much more rapid in onset than traditional medications such as, Prozac.
In the initial study of 28 people at the University of Oxford – 29% of patients experienced greatly improved moods, 4–7 days after their final ketamine dose – with 4 of people in the trial feeling totally depression-free. The team has now treated a total of 45 patients – 9 of whom have benefited to the point where intermittent ketamine treatments were considered worth continuing with.
As a ‘party drug’ it’s not uncommon for users to dose at a level of several grams a day – causing much reduced cognitive function and severe bladder problems to. Under medical supervsion, however, the doses used are much different. The dose used in the University of Oxford study was no more than 80 mg (80 thousandths of a gram) per week – administered In a constantly monitored and controlled hospital setting.
‘Intravenous ketamine is an inexpensive drug which has a dramatic, but often short-term, effect in some patients whose lives are blighted by chronic severe depression,’ says principal investigator Dr Rupert McShane, a consultant psychiatrist at Oxford Health and a researcher in Oxford University’s Department of Psychiatry.
He adds: ‘We now need to build up clinical experience with ketamine in a small number of carefully monitored patients. By trying different infusion regimes and adding other licensed drugs, we hope to find simple ways to prolong its dramatic effect.’
Prolonging the anti-depressant effect still needs some work as some of the patients relapse within days, while others have found symptom relief for up to 3 months after the final dose. As with all medications – side-effects are also a concern including one case of the supply of blood to the brain being interrupted.
Ketamine is classified as a class B drug in the UK, although it is already used for the treatment of back pain and as an anaesthetic – in the U.S. it is listed as a Schedule III substance. Doctors advise people should not try to self-medicate due to the serious risk to health outside of medical supervision.
If you’ve any of the symptoms below for several weeks or more – make an appointment to see a medical professional. They’ll be able to recommend strategies or treatments that could help you feel better.
- Persistent low mood or sadness.
- Definite reduction in pleasure or interest in activities that are normally enjoyable.
- Poor quality of sleep – insomnia, waking up early and unable to get back to sleep.
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Desire for excessive sleep.
- Weight loss and poor appetite
- Comfort eating and weight gain.
- Tiredness (fatigue) or loss of energy.
- Poor concentration
- Suicidal thoughts