An extra potent ketamine nasal spray could be used to treat depression, according to VICE.
Experts have explained that ketamine’s dissociative and anaesthetic effects could work as an efficient treatment for depression as it works quicker than drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
The boost of the serotonin hormone levels is seen with the use of ketamine and esketamine - as both work by reprogramming the cells that affect mood and thought patterns.
Esketamine is a more potent version of ketamine which can be found as a nasal spray that medical professionals believe may have fewer side effects however, no clinical trials have proven this.
Last year, Bristol opened the first ketamine clinic in the UK and since then many more have opened across the world for people suffering from depression, anxiety or addiction as a course of several dosages.
The NHS says that “ketamine is not a licensed treatment for depression” therefore the drug can only be used as an anaesthetic or painkiller.
VICE spoke with a psychiatrist from the KU Leuven University in Belgium, Koen Demyttenaere about how he has successfully used a ketamine derivative to treat severely depressed people.
Demyttenaere explained that it needs to be made clear that “ketamine isn’t officially recognised as an antidepressant and esketamine is currently only used for treatment-resistant depression.
They’re costly products which, in Belgium at least, that have to be taken under medical supervision in a hospital setting. They’re not for patients just starting treatment.”
Demyttenaere spoke on his findings and said: “We have found that both can ease depression considerably in just a few hours. This is because they’re acting on a completely different neurotransmitter to those targeted by conventional antidepressants.
We’ve also found using both ketamine and esketamine results in a rapid decrease in suicidal thoughts, but it should be noted that this is sort of independent from the general antidepressant effect.”
Becky Buckle is Mixmag's Digital Intern, follow her on Twitter