Ketamine is best known for being a party drug — or a horse tranquilizer, depending on how much time you spend on farms — but new research shows that it could also be used to treat depression.
The study, published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, looked at 16 patients over 60 with treatment-resistant depression.
Patients were given small intravenous doses of the drug, and for some, the results were almost immediate. Head researcher Colleen Loo told VICE: "One patient had depression for years and years and nothing had worked, he'd basically accepted that he'd never be well. After one treatment he came back to me and said he felt completely cured."
She continued: "However, for many patients, the effects wear off after a few days and the ketamine has to be repeatedly re-administered. And that's not ideal because of the potentially damaging side effects associated with long term use."
Ketamine's side effects range from incontinence to kidney and liver failure, which is obviously a big concern. Loo also cautions that the answer to depression isn't as simple as taking a bunch of K. "We need much more research into how to administer this properly and tackle side effects," she says.
That said, Loo is confident that Ketamine will be available as an antidepressant "within the next few years, not longer than that."
- In other news, here’s everything you need to know about starting therapy.