WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- Studies have found that with a low dosage, ketamine can treat chronic depression
- The World Health Organization estimates more than 264 million people suffer from depression worldwide
- Ketamine directly affects the body’s glutamate neurotransmitter, which is closely related to mental health
Ketamine,a dissociative drug that was approved as an aesthetic in 1970, is also used as a party drug that can produce visual and auditory distortion. However, recent studies have found that with a low dosage, the drug can be used to treat chronic depression.
A study recently published by Molecular Psychiatry shows the molecular processes that enable ketamine to act as an anti-depressant.
According to the World Health Organization, 264 million people around the world suffer from depression, and approximately 800,000 people commit suicide annually. Many of the individuals who suffer from depression claim that traditional treatment does not provide them with relief.
SSRIs are the most commonly prescribed anti-depressant. They work by increasing the brain’s serotonin production. But according to neuroscientist Per Svenningsson, 30 percent of patients report that they experience little to no relief from their SSRI medications.
Unlike SSRIs, ketamine reduces activity within the body’s glutamate neurotransmitter, which is closely tied to overall mental health. When used to treat depression, ketamine can quickly relieve symptoms including suicidal thoughts.
“”Elevated glutamate release has been linked to stress, depression and other mood disorders, so lowered glutamate levels may explain some of the effects of ketamine,” said Svenningsson.
Ketamine also affects AMPA receptors by increasing the release of a neurotransmitter that hinders glutamate release almost immediately. Many depression patients say they feel the results within hours of ketamine treatment.
“These effects could contribute to the efficacy of ketamine to instantly alleviate depressive symptoms and suicidal ideation, taking into account that excessive glutamate levels have been linked to MDD and other mood disorders,” the study finds.
“Understanding the mechanisms of ketamine’s rapid-onset anti-depressant action may aid the development of novel antidepressant medications that have fewer side effects,” the researchers wrote.