Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Shrink Rap News: Is Ketamine on Our Radar Yet?

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Shrink Rap News: Is Ketamine on Our Radar Yet?

Article excerpt

It's been a few years since I first heard about the use of intravenous ketamine leading to instant relief of depression symptoms, relief that lasts longer than the ketamine does. It sounds like a miracle cure.

The current issue of CLINICAL PSYCHI-ATRY NEWS features a front-page article about the value of oral ketamine in treating patients not only with depression but with anxiety disorders ("Psychostimulants, Ketamine Lift Depression Quickly in Hospice"). In recent months, I've been hearing about it a lot, especially on National Public Radio (NPR).

While turning to Google and PubMed to examine the latest evidence, I am simultaneously wondering why I've not heard of anyone I know using it to treat depression. After all, ketamine is a Food and Drug Administration approved drug, and thus can be used offlabel. It is available as an oral drug, which I know mostly because "Special K" has been used as a rave drug for years.

And people are out there with treatment-resistant depression who could benefit from it if the risks are not too high. Note: The dose used for depression is only 1/10th (0.5 mg/kg) of the common hallucinogenic dose used on the street (350 mg according to Erowid).

As it turns out, ketamine was featured on many NPR shows a couple of months ago. Jon Hamilton's story on Morning Edition featured a man who has had numerous medications to treat his major depression, which he rattled off: "Klonopin, Ativan, Valium, Xanax, Re-meron, Gabapentin, Buspar, and De-pakote." I heard this story in the car and thought to myself that only one of those eight drugs is considered to be an anti-depressant. That's one of the problems we face: inadequate depression treatment. Either the wrong drug (Xanax) or the wrong dose (50 mg of Zoloft).

Neal Conan on NPR's Talk of the Nation devoted an entire show to ketamine. …

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