Home > Depression Issues > Research Into Illegal Drugs and Depression

Research Into Illegal Drugs and Depression

By: Ian Murnaghan BSc (hons), MSc - Updated: 29 Feb 2012 | comments*Discuss
 
Depression Ketamine Research Study

While drug abuse is well known to trigger mental health problems such as depression, research into illegal drugs has also shown some benefits from a drug known as ketamine.

Ketamine is an animal tranquilliser but is more commonly known for its use as a street drug – called 'special K'. A study earlier this year, however, showed that it could rapidly relieve the symptoms of depression in patients, sometimes in as little as only two hours. Not only that, but the drug continued to relieve symptoms for one week.

Current Antidepressants

An issue relating to antidepressant therapies is that they usually take some time to show a beneficial effect. Patients can become frustrated or suicidal as they struggle with their depression. In this sense, scientists have been keen to find a treatment for depression that works rapidly.

An earlier study eight years ago that only looked at a small number of patients found that severe depression was helped by ketamine. Following on this study, researchers elsewhere began a larger study to find out just how effective ketamine could be in helping depression.

Researchers studied people with moderate to severe depression, all of whom had not responded favourably to antidepressant therapies. Initially, participants received either a placebo or a single dose of ketamine. One week later, patients received the opposite dose. For most of the patients, their depression was reduced within only one day. Overall, a fifty percent reduction was seen in the symptoms of depression. For some participants, the positive effects lasted for up to a week or two weeks.

Understanding Ketamine

While antidepressants typically work to spark brain levels of a chemical called serotonin, ketamine has a different mechanism. Ketamine reduces the impact of a neurotransmitter known as glutamate, which is one reason why scientists think that the drug acts so rapidly to relieve symptoms of depression. This fast-acting aspect of ketamine is one of the reasons researchers are particularly intrigued about the use of ketamine for depression.

Unfortunately, there is a very notable downside. One key reason that ketamine is used illegally is because it produces hallucinogenic effects. In fact, this hallucinogenic aspect was the most commonly reported side-effect in the recent study on depressed patients. For ketamine to have any hope of being used therapeutically and legally, it would have to be provided in a form that does not cause hallucinations.

Also important is that the hallucinations would have quickly revealed to patients that they received the 'real thing' in the study rather than a placebo. In turn, this may have caused them to think their depression had lifted. Still, the research is important because it gives scientists a starting point for finding a more rapid treatment for depression.

Looking at Other Compounds

For now, researchers are hoping to investigate different ketamine compounds to find one that can provide the therapeutic benefits to severely depressed patients but without the hallucinogenic side-effects that could prove uncomfortable or frightening. Treating depression is vital to improving the moods of the millions of Britons who are thought to suffer from its grip. Hopefully, the recent ketamine research can continue to provide clues to help researchers develop a fast-acting, effective treatment for depression.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Topics
Latest Comments
  • buddhabae
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had an abortion about two months ago. It kills me even more knowing that Mother's Day is soon to be here. I would l have been 24…
    14 May 2017
  • jjone
    Re: How to Rebuild Your Life After a Breakdown
    i had a breakdown on June last year i dost realise the signs and carried on. i than slot froy husband in a…
    5 May 2017
  • Izzy
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I fell pregnant at 16 (im now 17) i found out about 2 weeks before christmas, unsure and scared i told my mum after only knowing…
    12 April 2017
  • Afad
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I m about to dissolve my marriage and I can't keep the baby so being 5 weeks pregnant I opted for medical abortion. Tough decision…
    10 April 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    Mabel - Your Question:I had a abortion a week ago, my husband wanted to keep the baby , I wasn't so sure.it was a big shock for…
    29 March 2017
  • Mabel
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had a abortion a week ago, my husband wanted to keep the baby , I wasn't so sure .it was a big shock for both of us , since we…
    27 March 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    sarah cleaver - Your Question:I'm struggling with guilt over having a termination on Wednesday five days ago. This was a mistake…
    22 March 2017
  • OvercomeDepression
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    anonymousmama - Your Question:I had an abortion on Wednesday the 15th of March I was 18 weeks pregnant and it's not something I…
    20 March 2017
  • sarah cleaver
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I'm struggling with guilt over having a termination on Wednesday five days ago. This was a mistake that was totally took me by…
    19 March 2017
  • anonymousmama
    Re: Depression After an Abortion
    I had an abortion on Wednesday the 15th of March I was 18 weeks pregnant and it's not something I wanted to do but everyone else…
    17 March 2017
Further Reading...
Our Most Popular...
Add to my Yahoo!
Add to Google
Stumble this
Add to Twitter
Add To Facebook
RSS feed
You should seek independent professional advice before acting upon any information on the OvercomeDepression website. Please read our Disclaimer.