Recent studies show that a common anesthetic, Ketamine, can be used to treat severe depression. This recent breakthrough has come from clinics in Denver where people are given very small doses to treat severe depression. All of the patients that were given a minuscule dose of Ketamine, had previously tried a number of other antidepressants that were not helpful. Since Ketamine has an addictive quality, none of the patients tested have had a history of addiction. Patients were closely monitored while being given the doses through an IV or a small nasal spray infusion. One patient was quoted saying “I thought the depression was going to kill me because I couldn’t live like that anymore. I had done everything” Another patient spoke of depression, saying “It tells you that you will be better off by not being here. There’s been numerous times when I felt that and almost acted on it”. For many of these patients, this was their last resort. Anyone who was given a dose of Ketamine was closely monitored through the entire process due to ongoing research that is being conducted on the healing effect Ketamine may have on the brain. Ketamine is FDA approved, but not for the use of an antidepressant. It is used off-label, which is a legal practice that is used often across the country. Each infusion costs about $350 and patients have to be cleared before being administered any of the drug. We don’t know what the future will hold for the relationship between Ketamine and severe depression. Will Ketamine be a long-term cure to severe depression? Will it have an addictive quality that is not safe for widespread consumption? Will it become cheaper and more widely available, and if so, how soon? With all of the constant testing and progress being made on this possible breakthrough the answers to these questions shouldn’t be too far away.
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