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Study Confirms Ketamine, a Club Drug, Can Ease the Symptoms of Depression

Update Date: May 23, 2013 02:14 PM EDT

Depression afflicts millions of people in the world and even though it can be treatable via counseling and drugs, there are a select few people in the population that do respond to the current treatment options. When depression is left untreated, it could lead to severe consequences. In the largest study to date, researchers confirmed previous findings that the popular club drug, ketamine, could be effective in easing the symptoms of depression for several hours.

The study recruited 72 patients suffering from depression who did not respond to two treatment options. The researchers administered a single dose of ketamine via the intravenous method. They reported that 64 percent of the patients felt relief and experienced fewer depression symptoms within one day. Only 28 percent of the participants that received midazolam, which is an anesthetic drug that the experimenters used as a control, reported feeling less depression symptoms. These findings confirmed a study done in 2000 by a psychiatry professor from Yale University, Dr. John Krystal, who found that ketamine could relieve depression quickly.

"[This trial] reports the largest controlled evaluation of the antidepressant effects of ketamine to date," Krystal, who was not a part of this new drug trial, commented. "Among people who respond to antidepressants, it takes on average seven weeks to produce this response [seen in ketamine]."

The results also found that 46 percent participants receiving ketamine reported feeling relief up to seven days after the administration. Only 18 percent receiving midazolam reported relief after a week. The researchers stated that the dosages that were administered were below the amount that the average clubber would use, and thus, the participants did not experience extreme cases of an out of body high. The researchers reported that 10 percent of the participants did state that they had some dissociative side effects from the drug.

The findings were presented at the American Psychiatric Association meeting and have not been officially published. The trial awaits peer review. 

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