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17-Oct-14 9:45 AM  CST  

Ketamine: Could It Be The Answer To Treating Depression? 

There are many many antidepressants on the drug market used to treat mental conditions such as depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and other mental illnesses. The question still remains – do they really work? Usually antidepressant therapy is trial and error.  October is Depression Awareness Month and here I give you some thoughts on the drug Ketamine. Could it be the answer to treating depression?

            Recent research published in “JAMA Psychiatry” looks at the affect of intravenous Ketamine for the treatment of Depression, Bi-Polar Depression, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and other anxiety and depressive disorders. Here is a little background on Ketamine.  According to Thomas Insel, Director of the National Institute of Mental Health, Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic in children for outpatient procedures. He also notes that Ketamine was considered a recreational drug of choice under the name “Special K.” However, through his research he has found that Ketamine, given via IV, can reduce symptoms of depression in just six hours.  New research also suggests that it diminishes suicidal thoughts in depressed people. Currently, there is no antidepressant on the market that can achieve such a result in patients that quickly. Ketamine also has the potential to work on treatment resistant depression, ongoing depression, and Bi-Polar Depression. But, there are still questions about the best dose to be given for effective treatment, the drug’s mechanism of action, long-term efficacy, and the safety of Ketamine.

            The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently gave ‘breakthrough therapy designation’ to Ketamine for the development of intranasal use for treating depression. More studies and additional research still need to be conducted before doctors can choose Ketamine as a treatment for depressive disorders.





1. Insel, Thomas. “Director’s Blog:  Ketamine.” The National Institute Of Mental Health (NIMH).” Web. Date of Access: 13 Oct 2014.

2. Feder, A.  “Efficacy Of Intravenous Ketamine For Treatment Of Chronic Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): A Randomized Trail.”  JAMA Psychiatry. Web. Date of Access: 13 Oct 2014.

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Source: Jennifer S. O’Reilly

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