Ketamine Could Offer Antidepressant Response Within Hours
By Heather Callaghan, Editor
Ketamine is again being explored (and held under the heat lamp) as a possible antidepressant treatment since the effects of the drug could take place much faster than many antidepressants. Experts weigh in on two recent reviews.
“Recent studies suggest that ketamine, a widely used anesthetic agent, could offer a wholly new approach to treating severe depression — producing an antidepressant response in hours rather than weeks.” (source)
Suicides kill nearly 45,000 Americans each year making it the 10th leading cause of death. With suicide, minutes matter, so a viable, low-risk treatment for depression that can act within hours – not weeks – is worth exploring.
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Science Daily reports:
Ketamine, an anesthetic, is one of several glutamatergic drugs affecting neurotransmitters in the central nervous system. Over the past decade, several studies have reported “rapid, robust, and relatively sustained antidepressant response” to ketamine, injected intravenously at low, subanesthetic doses.
Dr. Zarate and colleagues review the research on ketamine and other glutamatergic drugs for depression. Ketamine, by far the best-studied of these medications, is notable for its very rapid antidepressant effects. In patients with treatment-resistant MDD, ketamine has produced initial reductions in depressive symptoms within two hours, with peak effects at 24 hours.
Ketamine may also rapidly reduce suicidal thoughts. Combined with other medications, ketamine has also produced rapid antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant bipolar depression.
See our story on ketamine and sucidal thoughts
Dr. Zarate and coauthors said,
Efforts are underway to bring ketamine to market, standardize its use, and determine its real-world effectiveness.
They also present evidence on several other glutamatergic drugs like esketamine, which has been given “breakthrough therapy” status by the FDA for patients with imminent risk of suicide. Unfortunately, this means monolithic companies like Johnson&Johnson will file applications for FDA approval as early as this year.
Why does ketamine “work”?
The researchers reviewed neuro-imaging studies on ketamine’s effects on the brain. These studies show ketamine-induced changes in several brain areas involved in the development of depression (for example, the hippocampus).
Ketamine’s antidepressant effects work by “acutely disabl[ing] the emotional resources required to perpetuate the symptoms of depression,” and….
Emotional blunting… That’s probably no surprise to most of our highly-informed readers because, after all, ketamine is a tranquilizer. (Interestingly, OTC painkillers like acetaminophen have been found to cause emotional blunting. Maybe there is a connection between killing pain and killing painful emotion?)
Additionally, ketamine appears to increase activity in reward processing (dopamine, prefrontal cortex, etc.) SEE: Scientists Discover Which Neurotransmitter Stops Unwanted Thoughts
Ultimately, the researchers believe that regardless of how ketamine works or its role in clinical treatment, the true excitement of the discovery lies in the “antidepressant response to glutamatergic drugs” because it means that rapid help is possible.
We believe that low-risk, fast-acting help for depression and suicidal thoughts is a step in the right direction.
DISCLAIMER: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
This article (Ketamine Could Offer Antidepressant Response Within Hours) was created by and appeared first at Natural Blaze. It can be reshared with attribution but MUST include link to homepage, bio, intact links and this message.
Heather Callaghan is an independent researcher, writer, speaker and food freedom activist. She is the Editor and co-founder of NaturalBlaze as well as a certified Self-Referencing IITM Practitioner.
Wolters Kluwer Health. “Antidepressant response within hours? Experts weigh evidence on ketamine as fast-acting treatment for depression.” ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/02/180222125710.htm (accessed February 26, 2018).