Treating depression with ketamine
August 9, 2006 1:20 PM   Subscribe

Ketamine has been found to "significantly" improve symptoms of depression by influencing glutamate levels in the brain. A Forbes article notes that 70% of patients say improvement, and up to 29% were "nearly symptom free within one day". However, research into the effects of ketamine on depression is not exactly new.
posted by casconed (62 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

 
gah. "saw improvement".
posted by casconed at 1:24 PM on August 9, 2006


Unfortunately, it also "significantly" improves your ability to not be able to understand or control the connection between your feet and the floor.
posted by ChasFile at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2006


You see, this here is one of those FPPs that could actually be improved by a Wikipedia link or two. I had no idea what ketamine was.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2006


Ketamine is a helluva drug, that's for sure. And ChasFile is right - very difficult to walk on it at all. Even stand really. Still, good times!
posted by stinkycheese at 1:30 PM on August 9, 2006


Ketamine is schedule II, so it can be prescribed by doctors.
posted by Paris Hilton at 1:32 PM on August 9, 2006


From the Wiki link:

Standing up and moving may be more dangerous than lying still in one place.

But isn't that always the case? Unless you were on train tracks or something...
posted by stinkycheese at 1:32 PM on August 9, 2006


Paging SpecialK
posted by prostyle at 1:37 PM on August 9, 2006


Oh come now. You can walk just fine on Ketamine. Just need to find your "K-legs" =)
posted by idontlikewords at 1:44 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


The real info is here:
Erowid
Now that's research.
posted by gregv at 1:45 PM on August 9, 2006


Also am I the only one amused by the WaPo's description of K as "an experimental injectable drug?"
posted by idontlikewords at 1:47 PM on August 9, 2006


Just don't fall into a K-hole.
posted by shoepal at 1:50 PM on August 9, 2006


Special K is not for breakfast. The articles seemed to find that where and how ketamine worked were more interesting than ketamine itself.
posted by Cranberry at 1:50 PM on August 9, 2006



posted by ericb at 1:53 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


From the Forbes article:
The researchers said, however, that the drug, ketamine, is unlikely to be used in the treatment of depression because of possible side effects, including psychosis.
I agree with the article that this indicates a valuable new avenue for exploration, but I think it's highly unlikely that ketamine will become a standard treatment for depression.

It's hard to say what they mean by "psychosis", as that's not a diagnosis. If they mean "schizoidal behavior", that's kind of a big side effect, speaking from the perspective of a healthcare professional.

There is a possibility here for emergency psychiatric use when the depression is debilitating or involves suicidal ideation, but the possibility of truly life-threatening side-effects may derail that as well.

One aphorism in the ED is that clinical depressives are generally (nota bene generally) a risk to themselves, whereas schizophrenics are generally (ditto n.b.) a risk to themselves and others. Potentially converting the former into the latter would give many practitioners significant pause.
posted by scrump at 2:03 PM on August 9, 2006


I feel confused and vindicated-- So with adderall for speed, therapy-couch ecstasy and "pharmacological" ketamine injections, we now have FDA approval to be the druggies we were meant to be? The future's not all bad after all.
posted by gorgor_balabala at 2:05 PM on August 9, 2006


converting the former into the latter would give many practitioners significant pause. : well spoken scrump
posted by jouke at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2006


MetaFilter: Sedating Your Inner Kittycat
posted by BeerFilter at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2006


Ketamine is one of those things I was never tempted to try after seeing people using it.
Drooling zombies aren't very attractive.
posted by 2sheets at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2006


There may be more than one kind of K-hole. Especially if you're a rat.
posted by owhydididoit at 2:47 PM on August 9, 2006


It's worth doing once.

I can't imagine how it would possibly help depression, though.

A story:

A friend of mine bought a box of it from a vet in pennsylvania, and while driving back to the rave that he was going to sell it at, decided he was going to 'cook' it in the car.

So he opened up a bottle, poured it into a frisbee and stuck it on the defroster, which he thought would do the trick on a 3 hour drive.

Needless to say, it started spilling all over the place.

So he picked the frisbee up and drank it. He never actually made it back to the party that night.
posted by empath at 2:58 PM on August 9, 2006


Also, the people I knew that were regular users were not, in general, a happy bunch to be around. Then again, K was not the only thing they were doing.
posted by empath at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2006


I've never met anyone on a lot of K that inspired me to look into it, either. But then, dissociatives aren't really my thing; I'm pretty dissociative all by myself.

That's funny, empath, or at least I think so, assuming he didn't die. I can't imagine what would have to be going through my head where I would decide that "oh, shit, I must drink this entire frisbee full of ketamine."
posted by blacklite at 3:06 PM on August 9, 2006


I can't imagine what would have to be going through my head where I would decide that "oh, shit, I must drink this entire frisbee full of ketamine."
MetaFilter: Drinking the WHOLE Frisbee.
posted by scrump at 3:10 PM on August 9, 2006 [4 favorites]


Ketamine is one of those things I was never tempted to try after seeing people using it.

There are smart and dumb ways of using any drug. In years past, I sometimes found ketamine's dissociative properties to be a powerful spiritual experience. Those "out-of-body" experiences the Wikipedia article mentions as the reason doctors stopped using K as an anaesthetic in humans? Yep. Positive spiritual experiences.

I'm not surprised honest science is turning up evidence that appears to back that up.
posted by mediareport at 3:25 PM on August 9, 2006


I met a man once who said he made a living injecting K and getting betting tips from the visions.
posted by asok at 3:26 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


As an anthropologist, I'm conveinced that what is not addressed in the vast majority of depression sufferers in our society is cultural depression
cultural depression: A theory which attributes the contemporary ailments of a society (chronic substance abuse, poverty, dispossession, etc) to the long-term results of depression which occurs after very great, wide-spread tragedy such as disease epidemics, land-loss, and assimilation
.

A great Buddhist saying stipulates that Meditation is not what you think. Wishful thinking happens when you refuse to see how painful things are.

The the pathological problems facing todays American society is
the problem of addiction.

It is eazy to trash someones work as shallow, but remember that w/ science and science models it takes about ten to twenty years to really start catching on....

WHEN SOCIETY BECOMES AN ADDICT
From the book's introduction: "Our society is deteriorating at an alarming rate. As we watch the news and read the newspapers, we are increasingly made aware of corruption in high places, financial collapse, and a lack of morality in settings ranging from preschools to meat packing plans. Our planet is being destroyed by acid rain and pollution. Hunger and wars rage over the planet.

"As a society, we are responding not with action but with a widespread malaise. The market for antidepressants has never been better. Apathy and depression have become synonymous with adjustment. Rather than looking for ways to change, to save ourselves, we are becoming more conservative, more complacent, more defensive of the status quo.

"Those few individuals who notice and draw attention to these growing problems are met with massive denial. When they run for public office, they are not elected. When they confront us with what they know, they are ignored, dismissed, or discredited."
or

The Addictive Organization: Why We Overwork, Cover Up, Pick Up the Pieces, Please the Boss, and Perpetuate Sick Organizations
--Even though there is a plethora of books about organizations and corporate life and millions of dollars each year are spent on consultants and packages designed to "fix up" what is wrong with organizations, corporations continue to search desperately for models that will reverse a slipping economy and enliven a poorly producing work force. Individuals look forward to weekends so that they can recover from their "crazy-making" experienes at work only to find that they must face the same dynamics on Monday. Often, persons who come from dysfunctional families find their organizations repeating the same patterns they learned in their families. Even though these patterns feel familiar, they do not feel healthy. Though consulting packages seem to alleviate some problems for a few days or a week, those same problems reemerge with even greater force and tenacity. Even after our favorite committees have had workshops on communications skills, breakdowns in communication, dishonesty, isolation, anger, and withdrawals continue. What is going on? What are we missing?
Also see:
Recovery: it’s not just for “addicts” anymore.
posted by Unregistered User at 3:29 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Ketamine is one of those things I was never tempted to try after seeing people using it.
Drooling zombies aren't very attractive.

I've never met anyone on a lot of K that inspired me to look into it, either.


Indeed. Speaking as a priest, I'd like to warn all children and right-thinkers away from K. Please be aware that Ketamine is haram , i.e., only for use by professionals, in controlled environments.

Please stick to halal drugs such as cannabis and LSD, people, you'll be happy you did.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:30 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


So he opened up a bottle, poured it into a frisbee and stuck it on the defroster..of a moving automobile.

So he was high when he decided on this plan, right?
posted by tula at 3:39 PM on August 9, 2006


Watching someone on K is never going to seem attractive, by its nature as a disassociative all the interesting bits are mental, and to outside observers you will just seem very slow and uncoordinated.

Just because it looks like they're in a drooling coma, however, doesn't mean that's how they experience it. Psychedelics, disassociatives, etc are definitely not drugs you take to look cool.
posted by wildcrdj at 3:55 PM on August 9, 2006


Interesting post here from a blogger who took part in a clinical trial of Ketamine.
posted by the duck by the oboe at 4:04 PM on August 9, 2006


Awesome, the duck by the oboe. I'm still laughing at this quote:
As to the latter, knocking back a screwdriver and honking a fatty at 9 am is harder than it sounds [...]
posted by scrump at 4:35 PM on August 9, 2006


Watching people play videogames isn't particularly attractive, either.
posted by empath at 4:39 PM on August 9, 2006


Indeed. Speaking as a priest, I'd like to warn all children and right-thinkers away from K. Please be aware that Ketamine is haram , i.e., only for use by professionals, in controlled environments.

Please stick to halal drugs such as cannabis and LSD, people, you'll be happy you did.


What the heck you talking about meatbomb? Haram would hardly describes something "only for use by professionals, etc."
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:58 PM on August 9, 2006


hardly describe, damn.
posted by Matt Oneiros at 4:59 PM on August 9, 2006


Tell Cuddy: House wants ketamine.
posted by tomboko at 5:08 PM on August 9, 2006


In other news, Drano kills HIV smallpox and cancer deaddeaddead. You just can't take it internally.
posted by jfuller at 5:10 PM on August 9, 2006


Saying something affects glutamate levels in the brain is incredibly vague. Glutamate is the the most generally used neurotransmitter and affects a wide range of systems. Which glutamte receptors are affected is the question to ask.
posted by afu at 5:10 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]


Afu: sorry, IANA Neuroscientist. Just passing the word along, as it were.
posted by casconed at 5:23 PM on August 9, 2006


question: does this also apply to other dissassociatives? DXM, PCP, NO2?
posted by empath at 6:03 PM on August 9, 2006


Looks like they're all NMDA antagonists.

So, I guess robotussin would be an anti-depressant as well?
posted by empath at 6:12 PM on August 9, 2006


Further proof that nothing in this world could possibly be more depressing then reality.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:46 PM on August 9, 2006






Hm.
posted by icosahedral at 7:27 PM on August 9, 2006 [9 favorites]


Just as a point of reference, what drugs should one take to look as cool as possible?
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 7:47 PM on August 9, 2006


scrump: I'm curious about your statement: "whereas schizophrenics are generally (ditto n.b.) a risk to themselves and others"

The wikipedia article you link to includes this perspective: "Research has shown that a person diagnosed with schizophrenia is more likely to be a victim of violence (4.3% in a one month period) than the perpetrator"

Is there more to this generalization than the usual stereotyping of those who suffer from this mental disorder?
posted by peeedro at 8:05 PM on August 9, 2006


Also, icosahedral, apropos images.
posted by peeedro at 8:16 PM on August 9, 2006


Just as a point of reference, what drugs should one take to look as cool as possible?

Easy. 5MEO-DMT. Nothing says cool like flailing about, singing the vowel sounds, showing the obvious signs of transcending time and space while simultaneously achieving what can only be described as a spiritual orgasm, promptly followed by vomiting all over yourself, all with a big, stupid grin on your face.
posted by Afroblanco at 8:32 PM on August 9, 2006


What the heck you talking about meatbomb?

Meatbomb is a lunatic wannabe cult leader who thinks he's special because he's high on pot all the time. Seriously. Check his AskMe and MeTa histories. He also doesn't know what he's talking about with regard to ketamine; I doubt he's ever researched it, let alone tried it.

Anyway, the thing I recall liking about ketamine was the way the anaesthetic properties separated what Buddhists call 'monkey mind' from the nervous feedback of the monkey body. It really helped - in quiet settings, far away from flashing lights, crowds and loud music - to sift the physical nervousness out from the mental, allowing for a deeply calm and meditative state that was sometimes more interestingly hallucinogenic than the chaos I've often experienced from LSD.

In small doses, anyway. I've been in a k-hole, too, where the anaesthetic properties become deeply nauseating and paralyzing, but used with half a brain and in moderate doses, erring on the side of caution each time rather than diving into that moronic MOREMOREMORE mindset, ketamine can be a really relaxing and opening experience.
posted by mediareport at 8:37 PM on August 9, 2006


I can't be the only person who read the news report and immediately thought "where can I get some?" Can I? I wouldn't be surprised if there's a sudden upswing in ketamine sales amongst the depressed populations who are desperate enough to take *any* remedy they can to escape the anguish, and who don't care if it's safe or not.
posted by talitha_kumi at 1:52 AM on August 10, 2006


Is there more to this generalization than the usual stereotyping of those who suffer from this mental disorder?
Yes.
posted by scrump at 3:06 AM on August 10, 2006


That's lunatic cult leader manqué to you, mediareport.
posted by Meatbomb at 4:25 AM on August 10, 2006


What the heck you talking about meatbomb? Haram would hardly describes something "only for use by professionals, etc."

I actually thought Meatbomb's comment was pretty insightful as to the arbitrary nature of any given individual's drug opinions (as arbitrary as religious dietary laws, is how I read it). Most cultures around the world have widely varying opinions as to what is a "good" drug and what is a "bad" drug.

(unless of course Meatbomb was just being random and I filled in too many blanks - but if that's they case, it was still a useful comment to get me there)
posted by milovoo at 6:38 AM on August 10, 2006


Leaving the blanks for you to fill in is part of the free service I provide to the community. Glad I could be of service, milovoo, those new thoughts look great on you.
posted by Meatbomb at 6:59 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


and I filled in too many blanks

Boy, did you ever. It's a pretty good bet the comment in question was meant seriously rather than as a comment on the ridiculous arbitrariness of opinions about drugs. Especially given the ridiculous arbitrariness of Meatbomb's opinions on drugs.
posted by mediareport at 8:32 AM on August 10, 2006


Your interpretation of my opinion has left too many blanks unfilled, mediareport, making your assessment of my real intentions ridiculously arbitrary.
posted by Meatbomb at 9:07 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Talitha -- do you have any friends that work for a vet? That's how you get it.
posted by empath at 9:20 AM on August 10, 2006



posted by thedude256 at 9:21 AM on August 10, 2006 [1 favorite]


Potentially converting the former into the latter would give many practitioners significant pause.

Umm you do know that if a depressed person was given Ketamine and became psychotic (delusional and/or hallucinating) because of the Ketamine that wouldn't make them schizophrenic, right?
posted by squeak at 9:25 AM on August 10, 2006


So. This ketamine? It vibrates?

Speaking as someone who suffers from depression but has never taken ketamine, I can say authoritatively that ketamine has never helped me treat my depression. Here are some things that do treat depression. A death in the family. A very bad romantic relationship. A lack of a good romantic relationship. A lack of a very bad romantic relationship in the recent past. Not enough sleep. Insufficient job security. Being overweight. Irrationally blaming yourself for everything wrong in reality. Knowing that nobody really reads your posts to MeFi. Oh, and the end of a movie like Cool Runnings. These and so much more are particular treats to one's depression. Why anyone in their right mind would want to take drugs that treat depression is beyond me.
posted by ZachsMind at 9:30 AM on August 10, 2006


It's always nice to see people doing actual research and confirming things that people in certain fringe areas of self-psychiatry have speculated on for some time.

does this also apply to other dissassociatives? DXM, PCP, NO2?

Anecdotal evidence suggests a possibility in the case of DXM, though there's also a number of people that have reported post-use depression.

For some really interesting ketamine-induced experiences please see John C. Lilly.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:12 AM on August 10, 2006


For any of you aspiring guinea pigs out there, this study is currently recruiting patients. If you happen to have access to The Archives of General Psychiatry, the article is available here, otherwise the abstract is free.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:37 AM on August 10, 2006


The dosage used as a treatment is much smaller than the high doses when used as a street drug with supposedly less side-effects (such as hallucinations). My favorite article on this subject explains some secret or not so secret uses of ketamine.
posted by wiggles at 11:00 AM on August 17, 2006


If you haven't read nTeleKy's link about Dr. Lilly, you should.

but used with half a brain and in moderate doses, erring on the side of caution each time rather than diving into that moronic MOREMOREMORE mindset-mediareport

That is the best definition of drug control I've ever seen.
posted by Enron Hubbard at 4:47 AM on August 19, 2006


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