People who suffer from severe depression may one day be prescribed a controlled substance.
Ketamine, also known by its street name Special K, has legitimate medical uses. The drug is used to relieve pain and as an anesthetic but some people use it as a recreational drug. Ketamine is particularly popular as a party drug in young adults between 16 to 24-years old.
Abuse of the drug, however, has serious health consequences. Some users, for example, need to have their bladders removed because of heavy use of Ketamine. Nonetheless, the drug has potentials in treating patients who suffer from depression.
In a new study published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology Wednesday, a group of researchers injected the hallucinogenic drug to 28 individuals who suffer from major depressive disorder. Some of them have been suffering from depression for as long as 20 years.
The patients were infused up to 80 milligrams of Ketamine over a three-week period and reported their mood symptoms everyday either by text or by mail.
The researchers found that Ketamine has helped relieve the condition of some of the subjects and even made a number of them completely well for several weeks and even months. In as short as three days after the infusion, the researchers observed that the depression score dropped in 29 percent of the subjects by as much as 50 percent.
"We've seen remarkable changes in people who've had severe depression for many years that no other treatment has touched. It's very moving to witness," said study lead researcher Rupert McShane, from Oxford University in UK. "Patients often comment that the flow of their thinking seems suddenly freer. For some, even a brief experience of response helps them to realise that they can get better and this gives them hope."
The researchers have likewise found that while Ketamine is associated with bladder damage and memory loss, none of the subjects show any signs of these. The drug did not also appear to have affected the patients' ability to think clearly.
Twenty-nine percent of the subjects said they experienced mental benefits for three weeks while 15 percent reported of improved condition for up to two months before relapsing back into depression.