Daily Archives: February 7, 2012

Club Drug Being Considered a “Cure” for Depression

I don’t know if anyone else saw this, but there was a segment on my local new station a couple days ago about research trials in regard to using a slightly altered form of Ketamine (also known as Special K for those who are familiar with the club scene) to lift someone out of incredibly deep depression.

Hallelujah! I cried, It’s about freaking time!

The article about it on the CBS news website is a little more than laughable, (“is there an antidepressant shortage we don’t know about?”) but secured the idea in my mind more than ever that most people don’t know much about depression and its current treatment.

Antidepressant treatment for depression can take weeks, if not months before beginning to see an improvement in symptoms. On top of that, many people who experience bipolar depression can’t take antidepressants because they will trigger a manic episode.

Anyone who has experienced severe depression and has had to linger for weeks, months or longer in that state know how absolutely vital it is to improve our treatment options for depression.

The idea with this new take on an old party drug is to make it available in the emergency room. Many severely depressed people wind up there with the overwhelming urge to commit suicide, or after having already tried. The Ketamine administered is said to lift the person out of depression within 1-2 hours.

Amazing, right?

As excited as I am, there is obviously a downside we need to address. The effects of the drug so far only last somewhere between days and weeks, and while doctors are hopeful to modify it to last for months it is a bit more on the fleeting side for now. The amount of time it lifts you out of depression may not be long enough for the depressive episode to have fully passed.

Also, I haven’t seen any information yet regarding bipolar depression. I would definitely be skeptical to receive this treatment without some research being done on that end, especially after my own experiences being prescribed antidepressants.

The most terrifying thing I’ve encountered involving the drug is from The Seattle Times article, People’s Pharmacy, Surprising Drug for Severe Depression, a question that someone sent in regarding their experience from two research trials involving Ketamine for depression;

 I participated in two clinical trials of ketamine for depression. The infusion was not pleasant, but a few hours later, my depression was mysteriously lifted. It was as though someone carefully cleaned, polished and rejuvenated every cell in my brain. It was not a feeling of being high; it was completely different from anything I had ever experienced in my entire life.

Unfortunately, it only lasted a few days. When it went away, the return to life as I had always known it was horrible. They told me upfront that it is a clinical trial and the drug is not available for depression treatment. But it is a Food and Drug Administration-approved medication. Any M.D. could prescribe it, but no one has been willing to administer it.

I have felt closer to suicide at times since I found out how good other people feel every day. I hope ketamine will soon be approved for severe depression.

Does this give anyone else the chills?

Let’s consider the implications here. Depression is serious, it kills, and there are few treatments for it.

But, if I’m interpreting this correctly, this person has just stated that though their depression was lifted, the descent back into depression was “horrible”. They also said they have felt more suicidal since being denied this drug, since they have experienced a quick-fix to the depression solution and have since been denied it.

Based on the statement of this one person alone I would say we should seriously consider the data before making Ketamine available for treating depression. 

It alieviates the depression? Good.

But if it will cause the person to come down after a single dose feeling more depressed or suicidal than before, is it worth it? Are the people who feel the effects of their depression being abated going to become obsessed with having more?

And if these patients do establish some kind of dependency on the drug, how is it going to be dealt with in a healthy way? How much is the treatment that these people are hooked on going to cost them on a regular basis to maintain?

And how is this different than self medicating with the illegal club-version of the drug? Even if it is something that people can become addicted to, does government regulation make the difference?


In the meantime, medical professionals are urging folks NOT run out and partake in the club drug on their own. There is chance of overdose, hallucinations, and falling into the proverbial “K-hole” (if you’ve seen the movie Party Monster, that should be reason enough to stay away from it).

For me, I know those dark recesses of depression can make even the most sane people desperate enough to try anything, but I definitely urge you to consider the repercussions of any treatment before making the decision to partake.