Most of you reading this will associate ketamine with grimy after-parties, but Australian researchers have evidence that the tranquiliser can be used as an effective treatment for depression.
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University of New South Wales researchers at the Black Dog Institute have carried out a pilot program, which they say has produced “astounding” results.
The program, which was led by professor Colleen Loo (what a name), saw 16 patients over the age of 60 given low dose injections of ketamine. Among the patients were people who had been suffering from depression for years and had only seen failure with other treatments. Colleen said:
What we noticed was that ketamine worked incredibly quickly and incredibly effectively.
The findings were published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and are now being used to support a potential wider, three-year trial into the drug’s effectiveness as a treatment for major depression.
The whole use of ketamine to treat depression, including in the elderly, is really quite revolutionary.
Some people think, ‘oh maybe it was just a drug induced temporary high’ — and it wasn’t.
You had the woozy effects in the first hour or so, but the antidepressant effects kicked in later.
When we asked people about all the facets of depression it wasn’t like we thought they were better because of this one thing — like it made you sleep better, or it made you eat better.
All the symptoms of depression across the board disappeared.
We need to have these kinds of results in larger numbers of people, and that’s the study we’re currently doing.
The second one is, if it’s only one treatment the effects tend to wear off after a few days — you need to give multiple treatments.
The effectiveness and the safety of giving multiple treatments needs to be examined in further studies, and that’s what we’re also doing in our current study.
This isn’t the first study to find ketamine to be an effective treatment for depression and it looks like it won’t be the last either. It’s quite an exciting prospect, particularly when depression rates are at an all time high.
The main challenge now is finding a threshold for the dosage, because the last thing that someone who’s suffering from depression needs is a drug addiction on top of that. And we all know that too much ketamine can definitely cause a lot of problems – just read this story from a former addict if you don’t believe me.