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Ketamine: The New Wonder Drug August 25, 2013

Posted by Crazy Mermaid in Depression, Medication, Suicide.
Tags: ,

At our recent NAMI Washington conference in Ellensburg a few weeks ago, the most exciting thing I heard about was a drug called ketamine.  It’s a drug that relieves severe depression symptoms almost immediately. It would save the lives of the 35,000 people who die of suicide in the United States each year and substantially improve the quality of life of those who suffer from depression.

But with all of the promise this drug elicits, the problem is that there aren’t enough studies to warrant adding “antidepressant” to its list of “on-label” uses.  The best we can do right now is administer it as an “off-label” use at hospital emergency rooms or mental hospitals, which is where suicide wanna-be’s show up, or at psychiatrist offices, where people with severe depression seek help.  ketamine for blog

Ketamine has historically been used as an anesthetic in humans and animals, and its antidepressant quality was accidentally discovered when people undergoing surgery experienced a lifting of their depression upon awaking or shortly thereafter.  The antidepressant effect was traced to ketamine. 

Further studies, though limited in quantity, confirmed that 70% of people given ketamine injections experienced substantial relief of their depression symptoms after administration of this drug- some in as little as 2 hours after the drug was administered. That’s a world away from the 4 to 8 weeks needed for a traditional antidepressant to work.  It can mean the difference between someone committing suicide and staying alive. Or it can mean a substantial improvement in quality of life for those suffering from depression.

One of the problems with getting enough documentation in order for the US Food and Drug Administration to approve ketamine as an antidepressant is that the drug is an old one, with an expired patent. That means that no drug company is willing to spend the money necessary to finance drug studies to prove the drug works as an antidepressant. 

Although the cost of an injection seems like a lot of money to us,  (about $900) that’s not enough money to entice drug companies to spend vast sums necessary to administer the necessary testing. So, instead of the traditional path through drug companies, testing will have to be done through grants from the National Institute of Mental Health or other bodies like that, with no financial interest in selling the drug.  The best we can hope for from the drug companies is an isolation of the mechanism that works in ketamine, and a new drug developed from that mechanism.  That could take years. In the meantime, its antidepressant use must be limited to “off-label”.

One of the challenges associated with ketamine is that it has an unfavorable image as a “club drug”, a drug used by young people frequenting clubs to get high.  When used in large doses, it induces an out-of-body experience, something drug users are attracted to. This use impacts the politics of the drug, since no one wants to be caught developing a drug like LSD.

Since I haven’t seen him since my conference, I haven’t had the opportunity to talk with my psychiatrist about this drug.  That conversation will be interesting. Stay tuned.

Read more: http://healthland.time.com/2013/05/22/club-drug-ketamine-lifts-depression-in-hours/#ixzz2cocrOXXb



1. Teri - August 25, 2013

Thank “YOU” for the enlightening message about ketamine! ~Teri

2. Ibim Sarkozi - August 25, 2013

We should talk. I live in Seattle. Ketamine literally saved my life. I suffered 30+ years from an extreme form of treatment-resistant depression, and lived an isolated life of misery. I heard about ketamine last fall and volunteered for a clinical trial at NIH, where I received an infusion. In two hours all of my symptoms were completely vanquished: anhedonia, anxiety, dysphoria, fatigue, cognitive impairment, etc. You cannot imagine the sensation of decades of suffering draining rapidly away. Most of my fellow patients (who all have either bipolar or major depression) experienced the same. Some people will relapse, as I did, but additional ketamine treatment will knock the symptoms down again, instantly. The number of US doctors offering ketamine treatment is growing rapidly. I just returned from NYC where I received a series of 6 infusions (a series provides longer lasting relief than a single infusion). It’s no exaggeration to say I now feel completely normal, and function normally. I’ve spent the past 10 months studying the science and fighting those who think ketamine should be withheld from sufferers because it makes you high for 40 minutes during the infusion. I’ve launched an advocacy group and I spend my energy spreading the word and fighting for widespread acceptance. If you’d like to correspond, the best way to reach me is via my fake, throwaway email address inceptiro-woak@yahoo.com.

3. THE K QUEEN! - September 21, 2013

What a delightful writing! Thank you so much! I am diagnosed with borderline personality disorder/depression/anxiety disorder..When I moved to a large city I had my first encounter with K. I left my body and had an experience I’ll never forget. (nothing bad). From there on out I used K to self medicate myself because I knew something was “wrong” with me (I was 19 at the time and didn’t get officially diagnosed til age 24). It worked for years. I quit K at age 24 went to a psychiatrist where I was diagnosed. I gave up K for years and would “only” drink cause society looks down on “drugs.” I was on the wrong meds for yrs..Total mess. Now I have restarted my relationship with K and am doing alot better emotionally! I did some tonight and am going to do more soon! Screw drinking! That is the worst drug! I am glad that K works for you and has improved your life. Thanks again for writing about our beloved K 🙂 -A K Enthusiast!

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