A recent study has suggested that ‘party drug’ ketamine could offer hope for people with depression.
The results of a small trial conducted by Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust suggested that ketamine can have a “dramatic” effect on patients with depression, opening up a potential new avenue for research.
The study, conducted on just 28 people, involved researchers administering doses of ketamine to patients with depression over 40 minutes on six different occasions. Eight of the group reported a reduction in symptoms, while four improved to such a level that they were no longer considered depressed.
For some, improvements were felt within six hours of the drug being administered, prompting the lead researcher, Dr Rupert McShane, to describe the effect as “dramatic” and “exciting”.
However, the duration of the effect varied across patients, with some relapsing within a few months and others requiring additional doses of ketamine. The study also reported a number of dangerous side effects from taking the drug, and doctors have warned patients against self-medicating.
While the researchers concluded that ketamine was “not about to be routine treatment”, the results have opened up a potential avenue for treatment development and further proved that depression is a chemical and not emotional issue.
Ketamine, often labelled the ‘party drug’, is currently illegal, although the government is in the process of reclassifying the drug as class B.