Ketamine’s use as an anesthetic — and not as a party drug — is widespread, though not commonly known. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates ketamine is the most widely used anesthetic in the world and keeps it on their list of essential medicines, a category of drugs that all developed countries should have on hand.
But it wasn’t until the 1990s that what could turn out to be ketamine’s most important function was discovered. A team from Yale University School of Medicine was examining the role of glutamate, a common neurotransmitter, in depression, and discovered something remarkable: ketamine could rapidly relieve depression symptoms.
An emergency-room doctor explains why he routinely sticks his patients in the K-hole.
Ketamine, a drug once synonymous with the party scene, is now at the forefront of depression treatment. Recent trials for SPRAVATO show that esketamine, a compound molecularly similar to ketamine, works quickly and rapidly to reduce depression symptoms in patients. Even so, doctors emphasize this is not an elixir for psychiatric disorders, and most definitely is not for everyone.
It is either the most exciting new treatment for depression in years or it is a hallucinogenic club drug that is wrongly being dispensed to desperate patients in a growing number of clinics around the country.
It is called ketamine — or Special K, in street parlance.
This is why there's so much excitement around ketamine. It offers relief to many patients who previously didn't respond to anything. When it works, the drug acts within hours, not weeks, which makes it especially promising for patients at risk of suicide. And because it targets a different neurotransmitter system—not serotonin but glutamate—it's giving scientists new insight into the biology of depression.
The term ‘K-hole’ was the most frightening slang I’d ever heard for a drug experience. Recreational drugs are supposed to induce euphoria and enlightenment, not shove you down a black hole and force an ambulance to haul away your drooling hulk.
It was at that moment that I knew I would have to try Special K.
A new proposal to limit access to ketamine around the world would have a devastating effect on the health of millions of women in poorer countries, say campaigners. Although in developed nations ketamine is known primarily as a party drug, in lower income countries it's one of the most widely used anesthetics available, and is particularly notable for its use during caesarean sections.
Having begun life as an anesthetic in 1962, then quickly co-opted as a party drug, ketamine is now the source of much excitement among psychiatrists for its potential to treat depression. There is one major challenge, though, as anyone who’s ever seen someone out of their mind on “Special K” can well imagine: the negative and potentially dangerous side effects of the drug mean it’s rarely used in clinical research. And so, to advance the field, neuroscientists are trying to figure out just what makes Special K so special. Their hope is to create a treatment with all the positive effects of the original drug, and none of its downsides.
Facing another “roller coaster” ordeal of new medications and treatments for her ongoing severe depression, Houston realtor Kim Crespo was desperate for anything that would help her debilitating condition.
She found it at Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital in the unlikely treatment of ketamine, a version of the popular club drug (known on the street as K, Special K or kit kat) from the ‘80s and ‘90s. Following a six-week treatment in 2012, her depression was gone. Six years later, she still praises the drug’s lasting effects and calls it a “miracle” drug for helping her.
A doctor explains what ketamine is, why people use it to party, and how to be safe while taking it.
How the veterinary anesthetic and recreational drug saved me from suicidal thoughts.
The anesthetic and party drug offers depression patients new hope, but some clinics may stray from science.
The next big depression treatment might be ketamine, but how best to use it remains unknown.
The ketamine-like spray offers hope for people with treatment-resistant depression.
The evidence that ketamine can curb the symptoms of severe depression is starting to pile up. New findings on the clinical efficacy of the well-known party drug may pave the way for it to move out of the club and into the doctor’s office.
It’s been 50 years in the making, but the anaesthetic and illicit party drug ketamine is now having a clinical comeback. New studies show that this commonly used anaesthetic can provide quick relief of core symptoms associated with severe depression, including suicidal ideation. Amazingly, ketamine works within hours and its effects are maintained for at least one week. Most strikingly, ketamine is effective in those patients who are resistant to ordinary antidepressants, and they make up around 30 to 50 per cent of the depressed population.
Johnson & Johnson has submitted its esketamine for regulatory approval, but researchers still don't understand how the fast-acting antidepressant lifts moods.
The drug ketamine shows promise in early study as doctors work to address the symptoms suicidal patients exhibit.
In 1962, chemistry professor Calvin Stevens discovered a PCP analogue that fit the bill: ketamine.
Ketamine is a potent, sedating painkiller that can cause amnesia and is mostly used in surgery and veterinary medicine. During the Vietnam Invasion, ketamine saw widespread use in the U.S. military because it has several advantages over opioids. First, unlike morphine, ketamine doesn’t suppress blood pressure or breathing. It also doesn’t need to be refrigerated, making it useful in the field or in rural areas that don’t have access to electricity.