|"Yup, I pretty much have my depression under control. Just keep dosing me with that horse tranquilizer."|
"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.
While it has been used as an anesthetic for decades [for HORSES!], small studies at prestigious medical centers like Yale, Mount Sinai and the National Institute of Mental Health suggest it can relieve depression in many people who are not helped by widely used conventional antidepressants like Prozac or Lexapro.
And the depression seems to melt away within hours, rather than the weeks typically required for a conventional antidepressant.
But some psychiatrists say the drug has not been studied enough to be ready for use outside of clinical trials, and they are alarmed that clinics are springing up to offer ketamine treatments, charging hundreds of dollars for sessions that must be repeated many times.
Dr. David Feifel, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego, said that what is essentially a psychedelic trip is over quickly after the treatment is ended.
“More often than not, they really like it,” said Dr. Feifel, who is one of the only academic psychiatrists to offer ketamine as a treatment, as opposed to in a clinical trial, though only to people who have exhausted other options. He said that if he did not offer the drug, “I’m consigning you to lose another decade until ketamine might be ready. I just don’t feel that presumptuous.”
One of his patients, Maggie, said that when she got her first infusion she was aware enough to change the tunes on her iPod, albeit slowly, but was “transported into a completely different dimension.” She added, “Everything there is completely vibrant or molten.”
The trip ended quickly, but within hours, a lifetime of depression began to lift."