Ketamine is an anesthetic drug commonly used in both..." /> Ketamine is an anesthetic drug commonly used in both..." />

Ketamine Highly Effective at Treating Depression

orange prescription pill bottlesKetamine is an anesthetic drug commonly used in both human and animal medicine. Unless you’re interested in medicine, though, you may only know Ketamine as a street drug popularly known as Special K. The brain-altering effects that make Ketamine a tempting option for drug users may also render the drug a powerful depression treatment, according to recent research.

Ketamine for Depression

For people struggling with depression, the wait for an antidepressant to kick in—a process that can take eight weeks and that may require a patient to try multiple drugs—can feel like an eternity. A recent study on four people with depression has yielded what lead study author Colleen Loo calls a depression “game changer.” Each subject was administered an intravenous dose of Ketamine once per week. Three of the four subjects experienced rapid relief of their depression symptoms.

For each of the three subjects who saw an improvement, the greatest improvement occurred at the highest dose of Ketamine. All three subjects relapsed back into depression after a week, though, suggesting that Ketamine’s effects might be short-lived. If Ketamine were ever to become a widespread depression treatment, people receiving the drug might need to undergo weekly treatment sessions to avoid relapse.

Other Ketamine Uses

This isn’t the first study that has uncovered Ketamine’s positive mental health benefits. One recent study found that Ketamine could also serve as a rapid treatment for posttraumatic stress; most of the patients in that study experienced relief within a few hours of undergoing Ketamine treatment.

Among people with treatment-resistant depression, electroconvulsive therapy is a treatment of last resort. Some research suggests that patients who receive Ketamine anesthesia prior to the procedure experience better results and are more likely to recover from depression.

All of the studies on Ketamine to date have been done on relatively small groups, so more research needs to be done before doctors can definitively say that Ketamine treats mental health conditions.


  1. Cassels, C. (2014, April 17). Ketamine: New potential as rapid PTSD Treatment. Retrieved from
  2. Kellner, C. H., MD, & Bryson, E. O., MD. (2014, May 9). Ketamine anesthesia for electroconvulsive therapy. Retrieved from
  3. Ketamine shows ‘game-changing’ effect on suicide prevention. (2014, June 12). Retrieved from

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  • michael

    June 23rd, 2014 at 4:23 AM

    Is there anyone who can explain to me how something so beneficial like this drug can then be turned around and found on the street causing less than desirable results? This always confuses me so much and leaves me thinking that if some people would take all that time and energy that they have into making things bad and take a look at how they could do good with that instead we would have a whole new ballgame in this world now wouldn’t we?

  • Jeremiah

    June 23rd, 2014 at 3:19 PM

    You don;t really go into too much detail about this other than it is routinely used for anesthetic purposes. This would seem to go against the grain of what I would normally think that patients who are depressed would need.
    I think that they need something to keep them going and not anesthetic. This doesn’t just serve to dull the pain that they are feeling, or does the dosage amount come into play and the benefit rely upon that?

  • vernicia

    June 25th, 2014 at 4:23 AM

    I find it fascinating how you think that something will only help one thing and then all of a sudden it is discovered that it can help something else that you may have never expected. I guess that some of the best discoveries are those that are made purely by accident!

  • Lisa F.

    June 27th, 2014 at 12:34 PM

    It’s actually a by-product of the drug that is being used to treat depression. It’s fascinating and hopeful news!

  • fdgdf

    June 30th, 2014 at 1:45 AM

    It’s mind-boggling how many supposed news sites keep cashing in on old news. That Ketamine ‘may’ work for depression is now old news. What’s next? Thought news sites were for that, but nope.

  • sarah

    November 2nd, 2014 at 12:56 AM

    How disturbing…giving people hallucinogenic highs relieves depressed moods! Who would have thought?? Psychiatry you have no shame

  • Michaela

    May 9th, 2022 at 1:37 PM

    It’s interesting to learn that ketamine can help quickly relieve depressive symptoms. My mom has really been struggling with depression ever since she and my dad got divorced. She has tried other treatments and not much seems to help, so I’ll have to tell her to look into clinics that could help her get ketamine treatments.

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