Getting the Inside Dope on Ketamine’s Mysterious Ability to Rapidly Relieve Depression

From Scientific American

Ketamine has been called the biggest thing to happen to psychiatry in 50 years, due to its uniquely rapid and sustained antidepressant effects. It improves symptoms in as little as 30 minutes, compared with weeks or even months for existing antidepressants, and is effective even for the roughly one third of patients with so-called treatment-resistant depression.

New research shows how ketamine is an effective treatment for depression.
New research shows how ketamine is an effective treatment for depression.

Ketamine does not directly influence the same chemical messengers as standard antidepressants such as serotonin, but rather works via interaction with another chemical, glutamate—not usually associated with mood but rather with brain plasticity. One prominent idea about how it alleviates depression is by promoting the growth of new neural connections. “We provide a new angle for people to think about how this drug works,” says neuroscientist Hailan Hu of Zhejiang University in China, leader of the team that conducted both studies. If she is right, her group may have identified multiple new lines of attack for treating a condition the World Health Organization calls the leading cause of disability worldwide.

Read the full article on Scientific American here.

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