Ketamine, a general anesthetic usually administered to children and pets but perhaps best known as a horse tranquilizer, is also highly effective in low doses as an anti-depressant, according a study published Thursday.
Researchers at Yale University wrote in the August 20 issue of the journal Science that unlike most anti-depressants on the market which can take weeks to take full effect ketamine can begin to counter depression in hours.
“It’s like a magic drug — one dose can work rapidly and last for seven to 10 days,” said Ronald Duman, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale and senior author of the study.
The researchers noted that ketamine was tested as a rapid treatment for people with suicidal thoughts. Traditional anti-depressants can take several weeks to take effect, they noted.
The researchers found that ketamine improves depression-like behavior in rats by restoring connections between brain cells damaged by chronic stress.
Whatever the cost benefits of giving depressed individuals a shot of “Special K” as an alternative to long-term therapy, I wanted to highlight the “chronic stress” issue. For all the attention paid to the delicate feelings of Wall Street banksters and other highly-paid criminals, being poor is one of the main causes of chronic stress, as well as contributing to many other sources (untreated medical conditions, bad nutrition, family dysfunction, dangerous living environments). And chronic stress will shorten your lifespan even when it doesn’t lead directly to suicide. But I can confidently predict that this study will lead to a spate of thumb-sucking (finger-wagging) articles about the “dangers” of allowing people who can’t afford six weeks at Hazelden to “self-medicate”. And a bunch of pharmaceutical funding diverted to coming up with a “boutique” (i.e., patentable) version of ketamine that can be marketed to Medicare users as a longterm mood improver…
(h/t General Stuck for the link)