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What is Ketamine? How it Works and Helps Severe Depression

What Is Ketamine?

Ketamine got its start at the beginning of Belgium in the early 1960s when it was an anesthesia medicine for animals. The FDA accepted it as an anesthetic drug for people in 1970. It was utilized to treat wounded soldiers who were wounded on the battlefields in the Vietnam War. In contrast to other anesthetics ketamine does not reduce heart rate or breathe and patients don’t need to be on ventilators to take it.

Emergency responders may give the medication to a patient who is agitated who, for example, they’ve helped save from a suicide attempt. That’s how Ken Stewart, MD, says doctors began to realize that the drug could have powerful effects on depression and suicidal ideas.

“Someone has decided to leap off a bridge and they give an ketamin within the emergency room to help him calm down. Then, 9 months later, he tells”I’ve never felt suicidal for nine months.’

“When enough stories like that started to pile up, doctors said, ‘Maybe there’s something here,'” says Stewart who is an emergency doctor and founder of Insight Ketamine in Santa Fe, NM. Like the drug itself, Stewart was introduced to medical combat during the Vietnam War. Doctors also make use of ketamine for treating suicidal thoughts.

Ketamine can trigger what doctors refer to as a “dissociative experience” and what the majority of people call a “trip.” That’s how it became a club substance, called K Special K, Super K, and Vitamin K as well as other names. Partiers inject it into their bodies, place it in drinks, snort it or add it to joints or cigarettes.

Visual and Sensory Distortions

“Ketamine can produce feelings of unreality; visual and sensory distortions; a distorted feeling about one’s body; temporary unusual thoughts and beliefs; and a euphoria or a buzz,” says John Krystal, MD, director of psychiatry and psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital and Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut and is an innovator in studying the effects of ketamine on depression.

The journey lasts approximately 2 hours. There are dangers with casual use. Most serious is low blood pressure, unconsciousness as well as dangerously slow breathing. The drug could also cause long-term problems, such as ulcers and discomfort in the bladder; stomach pain; depression and a poor memory. Ketamine can be fatal to people who abuse alcohol or if you consume the drug while drunk.

But the drug’s potential as a treatment for depression and antidote to suicidal thoughts has caught the attention of researchers. They’ve researched and studied the drug in controlled clinical settings to help resistant depression and other illnesses.

To be clear: Casual usage of a drug is not a solution for depression. But doctors have come up with guidelines for medically-supervised usage that can help people who have trouble getting relief from other medication.

“We’re reaching out in a new way to patients who have not responded to other kinds of treatments and providing, for some of them, the first time that they’ve gotten better from their depression,” Krystal claims.

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