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By Traci Pedersen
Reviewed by John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on August 31, 2010

Yale scientists have figured out the inner workings of the novel antidepressant, ketamine, and how exactly it is able to bring relief in hours rather than the weeks or months typically needed by similar drugs on the market. The findings, published in the August 20 issue of the journal Science, may quicken the development of a safe and convenient form of ketamine that can be prescribed for alleviating depression.

Yale researchers found that, in rats, ketamine rapidly decreases depression-like behaviors and also re-establishes connections between brain cells damaged by constant stress.  The effects of the drug have proven incredibly effective on severely depressed human patients as well.

“It’s like a magic drug—one dose can work rapidly and last for seven to 10 days,” said Ronald Duman, senior author of the study and professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale.

Traditionally, ketamine has been used as a general anesthetic for children, but about a decade ago, it was found by researchers at the Connecticut Mental Health Center to bring relief to depressed patients when given in small doses, said Duman.

These first clinical studies, later replicated by the National Institute of Mental Health, showed that almost 70 percent of patients previously resistant to all other forms of antidepressants improved within hours of receiving ketamine. Its clinical use, however, has been limited up until now because it must be delivered intravenously under medical supervision. It is also capable of triggering short-term psychotic symptoms. Ketamine has been used as a recreational drug, sometimes called “Special K” or simply “K.”

Read in Full:  http://psychcentral.com/news/2010/08/31/the-mechanism-behind-fast-acting-antidepressant-ketamine/17442.html

 

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