Street Drug ‘Special K’ May Offer New Hope For People With Treatment-Resistant Depression

A hallucinogenic drug known on the street as “Special K” offers new hope to those suffering from severe, treatment-resistant depression.

Ketamine, which is derived from phencyclidine (PCP), already has a well-established medical use as a sedative or pain killer. But since 2000, small but high-quality studies have demonstrated its uses as a powerful and fast-acting treatment for major depression.

The growing body of evidence has emboldened doctors to begin prescribing Ketamine for depression, despite the fact that the drug has not been approved for such a use and the long-term effects are still unknown. To address those unknowns, various pharmaceutical companies are formulating their own versions of the drug and testing them in clinical trials, as The New York Times recently reported, but advocates say that the trials are simply an attempt to make money on tweaked versions of a generic drug.

Ketamine doesn’t work like common, widely-used antidepressant medications like Prozac, Zoloft or Lexapro, which are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors that change the balance of the neurotransmitter serotonin. Instead, Ketamine targets receptors of glutamate, an amino acid.

Scientists first noticed that targeting glutamate had an antidepressant effect more than 50 years ago, when doctors —> Read More Here


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