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Digilodger Offline
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Health News: Doctors are Testing Ketamine (Special K) as an Instant Depression Remedy - February 1st 2012, 02:27 PM

Ketamine is an anesthetic drug. However, among night clubbers, it is widely known as "Special K," a drug that enhance the user's mood almost immediately.

Now a group of doctors are testing to see whether they can use this "mood enhancing" ability to treat depression.

According to Sanjay Mathew, head of the study, Ketamine works on "a completely different mechanism" than other anti-depressants by increasing the amount of connections between existing neurons---much faster than growing entirely new ones.

Source: Gizmodo.com


We won't have the final result for at least a few more months. But the result so far seems promising"

Carlos A. Zarate, M.D. says patients typically say, " 'I feel that something's lifted or feel that I've never been depressed in my life. I feel I can work. I feel I can contribute to society.' And it was a different experience from feeling high. This was feeling that something has been removed."

Source: NPR.com
Carlos A. Zarate, M.D. is Chief Experimental Therapeutics of the Mood and Anxiety Disorders Program at the National Institute of Mental Health, and Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences of George Washington University.
And here's a comment of Heather Merrill, a patient in this experiment

No more fogginess. No more heaviness. I feel like I'm a clean slate right now. I want to go home and see friends or, you know, go to the grocery store and cook the family dinner.

Source: NPR.com


As of now, the most commonly prescribed drugs for depression are Prozac, Celexa and Zoloft. They usually take a few weeks to finally take effect.

However, Ketamin (Special K) takes affect almost immediately. This is very good for treating patients with severe depression, such as those who are at suicidal level. This would give them time to take advantage of other slower treatments, mend their relationships, and gain more supports.

But wait, the right dose would help, but the wrong dose would hurt. So don't just go and recommend this to everyone you know:

"I don't want people to think that taking ketamine illegally or from the streets will treat depression," [Asim A. Shah, M.D.] said. "Taking the wrong dose or taking too much of it might make you even more psychotic."

Source: LiveScience.com
Asim A. Shah, M.D. is associate chief of psychiatry at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston and a professor at Baylor College of Medicine


News via LiveScience.com, Gizmodo.com, and NPR.com

I'm sorry that the post is kind of long. I tried to summarize the story across three sources while still point out the exciting results so far and the danger of wrong doses. So this about as short as I can make it.

Last edited by Digilodger; February 1st 2012 at 02:34 PM.
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Re: Health News: Doctors are Testing Ketamine (Special K) as an Instant Depression Remedy - February 1st 2012, 08:58 PM

Had a quick look into this, and it has shown some promising results in instances of otherwise medication-resistant severe depression cases. However, I think the biggest concerns in terms of its wider use are the nature of the side effects (some of which can be quite serious in themselves) and the potential addictiveness (as with any anaesthesia). It's certainly worth examining in light of the evidence thus far, but as with any drugs trial involving highly potential chemicals caution is always prudent.

"The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." - Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

However bleak things seem, however insurmountable the darkness appears, remember that you have worth and nothing can take that away.

Originally Posted by OMFG!You'reActuallySmart! View Post
If you're referring to dr2005's response, it's not complex, however, he has a way with words .
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Re: Health News: Doctors are Testing Ketamine (Special K) as an Instant Depression Remedy - February 2nd 2012, 04:15 AM

This is very interesting for me because when I looked it up on PubMed, it involved pathway mechanisms that I have done some research presentations on already, specifically the mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR). Rapamycin is a compound found back in the mid-1960s that has been used clinically for treatment of cancers, immune-induced neurodegenerative diseases and may have anti-aging implications. I found a pretty good article that provides clear pathway diagrams for those who are interested. One of the figures is complex (deals with mTOR) but the other two are much simpler.
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science...28390811003777 (abstract and figures only)
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2715836/ (full text, gives excellent easy to understand explanation of the mechanisms)

If you don't want to view the links, the moral of the story is ketamine increases production of synapses and dendritic spines, allowing for greater neurotransmission at the molecular level. These increases do occur in neural areas devoted to emotional processing, such as the thalamus. Through LTPs, ketamine improves learning and memory. At the level of neurotransmitters systems, it increases activation of AMPA and NMDA receptors, thereby increasing glutamate (a known excitatory neurotransmitters) as well as inhibition of GABA (a known inhibitory neurotransmitter that is often targeted in anti-anxiety medications).

Overall, ketamine seems to work by reducing the stress caused by depression as well as mediating the actual neural areas associated with emotional processing. Since ketamine increases NMDA and AMPA activation, if too much ketamine is given, the person could undergo excitotoxicity, meaning the amount of neural excitement at the synaptic and cellular level is beyond tolerable resulting in damage. This occurs with overdose of other drugs, such as chronic excess amounts of alcohol that may result in deprivation of thiamine/Vitamin B1, hence, Korsakoff's Syndrome.

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