It was not the beginning of the zombie apocalypse that we were witnessing on the news a couple of years ago. Believe it or not, it was worse. Apparently, possible consumption of human flesh is one of the many unwanted side effects of abusing the anesthetic, Ketamine. “Special K”, as it is known on the streets, underwent a transformation into the new party drug, and it has been taking its place alongside opiates, benzodiazepines, and marijuana with teens and twenty-somethings since about 2010. Since that time, this once surgically “essential” and publically unknown drug has been drawing vast amounts of negative media, criminal and medical attention—but are there any positives associated with this drug?
Recently, scientists, mental health and medical professionals have discovered that medically controlled doses of Ketamine are very beneficial in treating Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorder. Yes, the same medication approved as an anesthetic in 1970, the same drug that has been abused to get high since the 2010’s, is providing evidence-based results that it does, in fact, reduce depression and regulate mood. Studies have shown that it produces significant results within a matter of minutes to hours instead of 2-3 weeks, which is the window within which standard pharmacological treatments for mood typically show benefits. Additionally, patients suffering from suicidal ideation who were treated with a “medically controlled dose” of Ketamine (medically controlled dose being key) reported their symptoms drastically reduced in 40 minutes, with gains lasting about 4 hours. Clinics around the U.S. are even currently treating patients suffering from depression and mood disorders using controlled amounts of Ketamine (yes, this is legal).
So Ketamine does appear to have some positives with respect to potential uses in the treatment of both unipolar and bipolar mood issues. It potentially provides treatment results, time frames and options for practitioners and patients, but the key appears to be the controlled dosing.
DiazGranados, N., Ibrahim, L., Brutsche, N., Ameli, R., Henter, I., Luckenbaugh, D., . . . Zarate, JR, C. (n.d.). Rapid Resolution of Suicidal Ideation after a Single Infusion of an NMDA Antagonist in Patients with Treatment-Resistant Major Depressive Disorder. J Clin Psychiatry., 71(12), 1605-1611. Retrieved September 7, 2015, from https://nebula.wsimg.com/5f3b6cc5e31881bab9f0fb5d070d35d2?AccessKeyId=98358B1A7BDF604FD210&disposition=0&alloworigin=1
Ketamine Facts, Effects and Treatment | Ketamine Clinics – Los Angeles, CA. (n.d.). Retrieved September 9, 2015.
Crystal K. Bray, BS
WKPIC Doctoral Intern