'Magic Drug' for Depression

A drug known for its recreational use in clubs, may have more immediate, longer-lasting effects for treating depression than the most commonly prescribed antidepressants, London’s Daily Telegraph reported.

A study by Yale Researchers found that ketamine, traditionally used as an anesthetic for animals – and in some cases humans – has a “magic” effect on those suffering from depression.

"It's like a magic drug — one dose can work rapidly and last for seven to 10 days," said Dr. Ronald Duman, professor of psychiatry and pharmacology at Yale University, who led the study.

Most antidepressant drugs, like Prozac and Zoloft, can take months or years to take effect and must be taken every day. In the Yale study, a single dose of ketamine stopped the symptoms of depressive behavior in rats within hours and even restored synaptic connections between nerve cells in the brain.

Ketamine has also been shown to effectively treat depressed patients who hadn’t responded to years of other treatments. But its clinical use has been limited because it must be injected to work as an antidepressant and causes short-term psychotic symptoms, like hallucinations.

George Aghajanian, professor of pharmacology at Yale University and co-researcher on this study, warned that ketamine required further analysis before it could be approved for general use as an antidepressant.

The study is published in Friday’s edition of the journal Science.

Click here to read more from the Daily Telegraph.

Click here to read more from the journal Science (subscription required).