Ketamine is being used on many depression patients who have not benefited from alternate treatments. However, the use of ketamine as a drug to treat depression remains a debatable question.
Depression is measured as a mental state of mind when an individual feels melancholic or dejected. A depressed person finds it difficult to concentrate, feels fatigued and agitated. Depression can also result in a person committing suicide. Thousands of people across the world suffer from depression and governments spend a lot of money each year to address it.
Ketamine has been used by many healthcare professionals as an anesthetic and sedative. However, the drug also causes hallucinations and can be used illegally as a recreational drug. In some countries such as the UK and the U.S., ketamine use has become popular for the treatment of depression. The drug is also being used by emergency departments to treat suicidal patients.
However, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved ketamine as a treatment for depression.
Scientists explain that ketamine works by blocking brain receptors called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). Previous studies have found the benefits of using ketamine as a treatment of depression for patients who have not responded to alternate treatments. Scientists claim that some patients show improvement in depression symptoms just within a few hours. The rapid action of the drug makes it a suitable choice to treat patients with suicidal tendencies.
Ketamine is normally given to depression patients as an intravenous infusion. The treatment may last for about 40 minutes and may continue for a few days in a week. Previous studies claim that ketamine has helped treating depression patients. A prior BBC report points out that several patients receiving ketamine treatment showed improvement and depression symptoms in some patients improved so much that they were no more classified as depressed.
"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," says Dr. Rupert McShane.
However, the effects of ketamine on depression patients are not same across the board. Ketamine treatment may have several side effects. The drug may also interrupt blood supply to the brain. Following a ketamine treatment, a patient is strictly advised not to drive or use machinery for 24 hours.
Some pharmaceutical companies are working on a ketamine drug type that can keep its antidepressant effects, but at the same time lose the dissociative symptoms and psychotic hallucinations. A ketamine drug may still take years before it is ready for approved depression treatment.
Even though many U.S. clinics are using ketamine to treat depression insurance companies does not cover the cost of such treatment.