Facebook Pixel

Is Ketamine the New Wonder Drug For Mental Illnesses?

By HERWriter
Rate This
could Ketamine be a wonder drug for mental illness? Andres Rodriguez/PhotoSpin

The idea of a drug curing any serious ailment within hours almost seems like magic. Yet a few researchers have found that the club drug “Special K,” officially recognized as an FDA-approved anesthetic called ketamine, can effectively relieve many mental illness symptoms within hours.

According to NPR articles, a psychiatrist and researcher Demitri Papolos has found ketamine to be a helpful treatment for several children and adolescents who suffer from bipolar disorder and other mental health issues.

Papolos has specifically focused on children who demonstrate a “fear of harm” profile, which includes characteristics such as sleep disturbances like nightmares, aggressive reactions to others trying to control them, and body temperatures rising easily (overheating).

However, other research suggests that the drug ketamine can also help treat major depression in cases where antidepressants and other treatments don’t work.

Another NPR article does mention that it’s not realistic to treat all mental illnesses such as depression and bipolar disorder with ketamine, since it can have some extreme side effects like hallucinations, memory issues and out-of-body experiences. The drug can also be addictive and cause long-term mental and physical issues, depending on the individual.

Some researchers are looking at other drugs similar to ketamine, such as riluzole and scopolamine, for everyday treatment of certain mental illnesses, according to NPR. New antidepressants could be developed based on all three main drugs targeting glutamate, which is a chemical in the brain.

So is ketamine an option currently if you suffer from major depression, bipoloar disorder or anther mental illness? Experts weigh the potential benefits of ketamine against the side effects.

Barry Friedberg, a certified anesthesiologist, said in an email that ketamine is a decent drug for surgery, but it can cause side effects like dysphoria, hallucinations and flashbacks for some people.

He suggested coupling ketamine with another drug called benzodiazepine, such as Valium, to help protect the brain, for people who are receiving treatment for mental health conditions.

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.