When ketamine first hit the medical market in the early 1960’s, it was intended to be used as an anesthetic. Not long after, partygoers came to know it as “Special K”, as it became a popular party drug with its hallucinogenic and euphoric effects at certain doses. It was only fairly recently, however, that ketamine was introduced into the mental health field as a treatment for severe depression and other conditions. Since then, researchers have done various tests on mice to confirm and explore the efficacy of the ketamine. Originally, researchers thought that ketamine worked for depression by catalyzing a series of biochemical processes responsible for the production of a protein called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor). Based on other tests on mice, the absence of BDNF seemed to be linked to depressive symptoms. After given a ketamine infusion, mice showed less signs of depression in just thirty minutes, and sustained for up to around a week. However, in light of new developments, scientists believe that it may be ketamine’s breakdown qualities responsible for improved patient condition rather than its boosting qualities. When injected, (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine is produced along with other various metabolites of ketamine. Researchers hypothesize that (2R,6R)-HNK may be attributed to lessened signs of depression and could possibly block hallucenogenic side effects post-infusion. Research on ketamine is proving to be revolutionary. Psychiatrist Carlos Zarate expresses frustration with previously developed medications because “even when effective, traditional antidepressants can often take weeks or months to improve symptoms”.  Zarate and his associates are optimistic about the future of ketamine and other mental health developments, and professionals across the country seem to be inspired by its uses as well. 



CC BY-SA 4.0 Ketamine: anesthetic, party drug, antidepressant by Bella is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.


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