Ketamine May Be Good For Treating Depressions Due To Opioid-Like Characteristics

STOCK  Getty ImagesA person holding up a bottle of Ketamine

STOCK Getty ImagesA person holding up a bottle of Ketamine

The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, looked at whether use of naltrexone, an opioid blocker, prior to ketamine treatment would reduce the acute antidepressant effects of the ketamine or its dissociative effects.

Ketamine, a drug that's shown promising results in a number of small studies as a treatment for depression, could be producing its effects by lighting up the brain's opioid system, the circuitry that controls pain, reward, and sometimes addictive behavior, NPR reports. It is reported that ketamine has been used for decades as an anesthetic in hospitals, but he also gained a reputation as the illicit "club drug" known as "Special K.".

However, there are three phases in how ketamine acts on receptors, which the researchers described as "rapid effects, sustained effects and return to baseline".

The researchers suggest that ketamine could still be useful as an antidepressant - it is remarkably effective, after all - but that it should be used carefully. He likens it to opioid painkillers being an appropriate pain treatment when used once in the emergency room but posing problems, such as the risk of dependence, when used chronically. Traditional antidepressants, such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, take four to six weeks to have an effect but don't work in two-thirds of patients who try them.

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In recent years, the party drug and anesthetic ketamine has been embraced as a rapidly-acting, if still off-label, medication for some cases of depression and suicidal ideation that don't respond to other treatments. Ketamine has a less potent effect on opioid receptors than drugs like fentanyl or oxycodone, he says, "but that doesn't mean it's safer".

Other researchers say the study's implications aren't so clear. "On the opposite hand, this survey is preliminary and its outcomes will possess to be replicated".

Ketamine infusions are also used to treat chronic pain, which is a common condition in depressed patients. Because ketamine is known to block the brain's receptors for glutamate, an important neurotransmitter that helps us learn and form memories, scientists theorised this activity might be key to its antidepressant qualities. Researchers at Stanford University School of Medicine found that ketamine, a drug now used to treat acute and chronic pain, counteracts depression by affecting the brain's opioid system. These beliefs led to the widespread use of ketamine to treat depression and spurred the development of glutamate-blocking drugs for use as antidepressants. So the crew designed an experiment that can treat sufferers with depression in two programs. The first became by giving them an infusion of ketamine alone. These drugs could possibly activate the opioid receptors without having abuse potential they add. Williams added that ketamine has been seen to provide relief of symptoms in other mental ailments such as obsessive compulsive disorders and now is the time to explore if opioids play a role in these diseases as well. An prognosis of a dozen sufferers who got both treatments showed a dramatic disagreement. "It doesn't work like everyone thought it was working", co-senior study author Dr. Alan Schatzberg, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a statement. "We have to properly examine the risks associated with using drugs of abuse - even in low doses - to treat depression", Schatzberg said. As a alternative, she calls the "the starting up build of a conversation", and says it "highlights that ketamine's mechanism of journey is hard". Rodriguez has served as a marketing consultant for several drug corporations including Allergan, which is rising a depression drug that acts like ketamine in the mind.

The primary outcome was the reduction of depressive symptoms 1 day after the infusion among participants who were responders during the ketamine and placebo treatment combination.

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