The illegal party drug ketamine is an “exciting” and “dramatic” new treatment for depression, say doctors who have conducted the first trial in the UK.
James Gallagher reports for BBC News:
Some patients who have faced incurable depression for decades have had symptoms disappear within hours of taking low doses of the drug.
The small trial on 28 people, reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, shows the benefits can last months.
Experts said the findings opened up a whole new avenue of research.
Depression is common and affects one-in-10 people at some point in their lives.
Antidepressants, such as prozac, and behavioural therapies help some patients, but a significant proportion remain resistant to any form of treatment.
A team at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust gave patients doses of ketamine over 40 minutes on up to six occasions.
Eight showed improvements in reported levels of depression, with four of them improving so much they were no longer classed as depressed.
Some responded within six hours of the first infusion of ketamine.
Lead researcher Dr Rupert McShane said: “It really is dramatic for some people, it’s the sort of thing really that makes it worth doing psychiatry, it’s a really wonderful thing to see.
He added: “[The patients] say ‘ah this is how I used to think’ and the relatives say ‘we’ve got x back’.”
Dr McShane said this included patients who had lived with depression for 20 years…
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