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Ear to the Ground

Depression Researchers Find ‘Exciting’ Potential Breakthrough in ... Ketamine

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Posted on Apr 3, 2014

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Ketamine is known to horse enthusiasts as an equine tranquilizer and to recreational pharmacology enthusiasts as the party drug “Special K.” It might also have other unexpected applications, including as part of a treatment regimen for depression, judging by the results of a recent trial in the U.K.

Whoa.

The BBC brought news this week of the trial run on 28 patients, the results of which were published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology:

A team at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust gave patients doses of ketamine over 40 minutes on up to six occasions.

Eight showed improvements in reported levels of depression, with four of them improving so much they were no longer classed as depressed.

Some responded within six hours of the first infusion of ketamine.

Lead researcher Dr Rupert McShane said: “It really is dramatic for some people, it’s the sort of thing really that makes it worth doing psychiatry, it’s a really wonderful thing to see.

He added: “[The patients] say ‘ah this is how I used to think’ and the relatives say ‘we’ve got x back’.”

That said, this is one of those instances in which a promising possible solution involves too many hazards and may not hold for the long term—among other risks is Ketamine’s brutal effects on the bladder—and, of course, self-administered treatments are not advised.

—Posted by Kasia Anderson

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