Ketamine is known for being taken illicitly for psychedelic effects in the streets and also as an anesthetic, but has recently struck interest in researchers for its potential as a rapid-acting antidepressant. Ketamine is an N-methyl-D-asparate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist, as said on Medscape, which will work with patients who have severe treatment resistant depression.
In 2000, there was a placebo study that showed intravenous infusions of ketamine formed rapid antidepressant effects. "That was the first controlled study that showed that ketamine had sort of an unexpected rapid antidepressant effect in patients," said Dr. Murrough. "We knew it was a glutamate antagonist, but at this time (in 2000), the role of glutamate in depression was not at all on the radar."
Ketamine has shown to differ from typical antidepressants such as serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors in that SSRI’s can take weeks to months to have an effect. Even in that time they are only moderately effective in treating patients with severe treatment resistant depression. "The rapid therapeutic response of ketamine in treatment-resistant patients is the biggest breakthrough in depression research in half a century," review author Ronald Duman, PhD, professor of psychiatry and neurobiology at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, said in a statement. Patients’ response to ketamine was often within 24 hours, and many of them actually felt the benefits within a couple of hours after the injection.
Although the findings shed light on a potentially important and effective new treatment approach with ketamine, the results will need to be tested in more robust studies, said Carlos A. Zarate, Jr, MD, chief of the Experimental Therapeutics and Pathophysiology Branch in the National Institute of Mental Health's Division of Intramural Research Program. This research about ketamine is interesting and has a promising future in the medicine world...