The Anti-Depressant Potential of Ketamine

Until a few days ago I only knew ketamine as a molecule with an amine functional group from organic chemistry.

I decided to learn more after reading an article from NPR’s mobile app of Top Stories . The first online reference after a Wikipedia entry was at DanceSafe, an organization that lists drug information to promote health and safety, including an anaesthetic called “Special K” or “K”.

This public perspective of the hallucinogen ketamine as the clug drug “K” was reinforced by the popular links in the search engine Google. The drug’s abuse can be explained by the effects of a high that can last up to 2 hours called a “K hole”, classified as a commonly abused drug at both The Anti Drug.com and Drug Free.org.

It can be fatal.

In May 2011 Louise Cattell, a 21 year old British student drowned after a “combination of a small amount of alcohol and huge amount of ketamine”, an example of the risks of improper dosage of chemical interactions in a toxicological context. Without forehand knowledge of this tragedy and its capacity for abuse I first learned of the drug as a possible fast-acting antidepressant from “Could A Club Drug Offer ‘Almost Immediate’ Relief From Depression?”. At the NeuroPsychiatric Center in Houston scientists are researching ketamine as an alternative for patients in the study who have not had success with current drugs such as Prozac.

The drug’s conflicting uses illustrates that it does not have inherent morality. Rather, there is potential for doing harm or good depending on how the drug is used.

Sources:    
  • Hamilton, Jon. “Could A Club Drug Offer ‘Almost Immediate’ Relief From Depression?” NPR’s Health Blog: SHOTS. NPR. 30 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2012.
  • “Ketamine.” DanceSafe. DanceSafe.org, n.d. Web. 30 Jan. 2012.
  • “Ketamine.” Drugfree.org. The Partnership at Drugfree.org. Web. 2011. 30 Jan. 2012.
  • “Ketamine Hydrochloride.” Parents. The Anti-Drug. The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign. Web. 2011. 30 Jan. 2012.
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The featured image is “Disastro Ecologico” © 2012 Alberto Seveso.
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