Can one treat depression with ketamine

Ketamine is a popular recreational substance. It has been used in rave culture for decades. It’s a special type of drug called dissociative. Relatively speaking, with some approximation, it is fair to say that ketamine is similar to commonly known LSD and other psychedelics but has some distinguishing features.

What is dissociative?

Such substances, though extremely diverse, have one common effect – ego dissolution (or ego death). What it means is that a person under the influence of this drug can completely lose their sense of self. It is often described with words like “feeling one with everything” or the absence of subjective “I.”

Origins of ketamine

Synthesized in 1962, it is a derivative of PCP, the so-called “angel dust.” The primary use of ketamine in medicine is actually not in the sphere of psychiatry today. It has been mostly used as an anesthetic, especially in veterinary clinics. The idea that it can be used in depression treatment is rather new to medical discourse. That being said, non-scientific literature suggested using it as a wide-profile drug with lots of applications back in the 20th century. One of the early works describing the benefits of ketamine is “Journeys into the bright world” by Marcia Moore, written in 1978.

Experiments with ketamine began as early as the Vietnam War. Although, back then, it was thought to be a field anesthetic rather than a remedy for shell-shocks or other psyche-related problems.

Modern medical use of ketamine

In 2019, FDA legalized the medical use of ketamine’s version – esketamine. It is produced under the trademark “Spravato.” As is the case with most psychedelic and psychoactive substances, their use is strictly limited by the physiatrist. It is only used in combination with therapy. Recent studies show that the effectiveness of psychiatric therapy and certain psychoactive substances is much higher when they are applied at the same time.

In recent research, it was shown that nasal ketamine (just like Spravato) is extremely effective in curing TRD (treatment-resistant depression). The effects of combined therapy lasted for about 16 weeks after its completion.

Ketamine is said to be especially effective due to the rapidness of its effects. In contrast to more conventional substances, which sometimes take weeks to take effect, ketamine provides relief for TRD patients as soon as 40 minutes. What is important, it is not a quick fix, as the effects are undoubtedly lasting and potent.

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