It goes without saying: this story doesn’t encourage you to go source some K for yourself if you’re having suffering from depression. If you do need help, there are plenny’a national helplines ready for your call. If you, or someone close to you needs support in a crisis situation, contacton .
There’s no use mincing words here: depression is a bastard of a condition. It’s estimated that, in any one year in Australia, a million of us are suffer from its stranglehold on our everyday lives.
Future predictions aren’t crash hot either, with depression likely to be second only to heart disease as the leading medical cause of death and disability within the next 20 years.
And you’ve probably heard about (what feels like) a million methods of treatment: antidepressants, CBT, more sleep and exercise, eating clean and speaking to a professional.
But what you mightn’t have heard is that Ketamine – otherwise referred to as K or Special K by your disco-fiend friends – is now being used as a treatment for the most severe cases of depression.
Over the past 10 years, a ton of studies/clinical trials have shown K – categorised as a ‘dissociative anaesthetic’ – to be extremely effective in reversing the kind of severe depression that traditional antidepressants have done nil for, in what experts reckon is the most significant advance in mental health treatment in 50+ years.
During clinical trials in the US, patients were exposed to six IV drips containing K over a two-week period. The dosage is very low – only a tenth of the amount used for anaesthesia – to make sure no one has the chance to get hooked. But its effects are felt within a matter of minutes or hours (anyone to witness a K-hole will attest to this), which is lightning-fast compared to traditional mood stabilisers that can take months to kick in.
Dennis Hartman, a Seattle businessman being treated with Ketamine, told the Washington Post the treatment saved his life by completely eliminating his suicidal thoughts.
“My life will always be divided into the time before that first infusion and the time after,” he says. “That sense of suffering and pain draining away. I was bewildered by the absence of pain.”
“It’s the next big thing in psychiatry,” says L. Alison McInnes, a San Francisco psychiatrist who has enrolled 58 severely depressed patients in the treatment, with a long-term success rate of 60% for people with treatment-resistant depression.
An increasing number of top-notch academic medical centers, including Yale University, the University of California at San Diego, the Mayo Clinic and the Cleveland Clinic, have followed suit in offering K treatments for severe depression. Us ‘Strayans are getting in on it too, with UNSW poised to kick off a $2 million study into the drugs medicinal effects in April.
With momentum building, the American Psychiatric Association is even headed towards an endorsement of the drug as last line of treatment for the worst cases of depression.
Though experts warn that there are still many unknowns about the effects of the drug, and that a lot more research is required, it’s a big step in the right direction towards treating a condition that fucks with the happiness of so many.
YAY MEDICAL SCIENCE.