Street drug 'Special K' may help depression

February 4, 2013

It's still in the experimental stages but it's possible Special K can help people with severe depression. What's even more exciting is the drug appears to work fast.

Doctors say about half of the patients who take ketamine get about 50% better with one dose, and that one dose works in just a few hours. Ketamin targets a chemical in the brain called glutamate, unlike most antidepressants that target seratonin.

"This may be a medication that works faster and it may work in some patients who have not had much success in getting better with regular treatments," Dr. John Mann, Columbia Psychiatry, NYS Psychiatric Institute, said.

"I was recovering memories that had been very painful for me but the pain was completely gone," Todd Landua, study patient, said. He's battled depression for four years.

Although ketamine is fast acting, it's not necessarily long lasting. The benefits of one dose last about a week, scientists say, and large doses could cause dangerous side effects. So doctors are working to find the lowest dose possible that works, but with the fewest side effects.

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