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Ketamine could be most effective cure for severe depression

Experts say it's the "most significant advance in mental health in more than half a century"

  • Dave Turner
  • 3 February 2016

Ketamine is getting closer to being used as an official treatment for depression, according to reports.

The Washington Post writes that experts claim clinical use of the drug "puts a quick end to suicidal thinking", also referencing its "robust antidepressant effect" by fixing brain functionality.

Being called the "next big thing in psychiatry" by San Francisco psychiatrist L. Alison McInnes, a number of university medical centres in the United States, including Yale, have offered out off-label ketamine treatments for those with depression deemed as severe.

McInnes reckons the American Psychiatric Association (APA) will get behind using ketamine as treatment in the first half of 2016. The process of treatment will include using six IV drips over two weeks and will apparently be effective "within minutes or hours."

Enrique Abreu, a Cleveland anesthesiologist, has been using ketamine on patients for four years and explained how it works and the impact it's had.

"It's not subtle. It's really obvious if it's going to be effective. And the response rate is unbelievable. This drug is 75 percent effective, which means that three-quarters of my patients do well. Nothing in medicine has those kind of numbers."

Despite it's success rate so far, though, it has been found to be short-lasting through clinical trials at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

As a result, medical staff do believe more thorough research needs to be done in order to work out the ideal dosage.

Carlos Zarate Jr. of NIMH said: "We clearly need more standardization in its use. We still don't know what the proper dose should be. We need to do more studies. It still, in my opinion, should be used predominantly in a research setting or highly specialized clinic."

[Photo: Sarah Schönfeld]

Dave Turner is Mixmag's Digital News Editor, follow him on Twitter here

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