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Tuesday 20th August 2019

Ketamine to treat depression

3rd April 2014

The illegal drug ketamine is currently being reclassified in the UK to become a class B drug. However, there has been exciting developments of the drug as a cure for depression.

white powder drug coccaineA team at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust gave patients doses of ketamine over 40 minutes on up to six occasions. The small trial on 28 people showed that benefits can last months.

This trial was reported in the Journal of Psychopharmacology.

From the 28 patients, eight showed improvements (four of which, improved so much they were no longer classed as depressed). Some even responded within six hours of the first dose 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."

Depression affects one-in-10 people at some point in their lives. Prior to this trial, a significant proportion of patients had been resistant to any form of treatment. Therefore, this trial has been met with plenty of enthusiasm although it is not yet a complete success.

There have been recorded side-effects including a lack of duration and instances of the brain's blood supply being affected.


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