Scientists from around the world are studying ketamine’s antidepressant effects and new research suggests that ketamine can relieve depression. Researchers already knew that ketamine can relieve depression in only a few hours and the effects can last for a week or more. What they are just now learning is that ketamine might temporarily make brain circuits function better.
In a new research study, researchers using cutting-edge technology and a whole bunch of stressed mice, revealed how ketamine changes brain circuit function and then stimulates regrowth of synapses.
Chronic stress depletes synapses in certain brain regions – so researchers in one study stressed out some mice for 21 days to study damage to brain circuits and tiny structures called “spines”. After administering ketamine they found the number of spines increased and brain circuit function – as well as depression-like behaviors caused by the stress – also improved.
The researchers noticed that while the improvements in behavior and circuit function occurred within three hours, the new spines didn’t show up until 12 to 24 after the treatment. And the study only looked at single dose outcomes, not the multiple doses usually seen in a course of human treatment.
Researchers are excited because ketamine does seem to work differently than existing antidepressants. But they also stress that ketamine is not a “cure”. They also mention that “a course of multiple doses typically wears off within a few weeks to a month”.
- Ketamine May Relieve Depression By Repairing Damaged Brain Circuits (April 2019; NPR)
- Behind the Buzz: How Ketamine Changes the Depressed Patient’s Brain (April 2019; Scientific American)
- How Ketamine Relieves Symptoms of Depression (April 2019; National Institutes of Health)
- How the antidepressant ketamine rapidly awakens the brain, and why its effects vary more in women (February 2019; Boston Children’s Hospital)
- How the Brain Changes on Ketamine: A Live Animal Study (April 2019; The Scientist)
- Researchers Are Unraveling How Ketamine Works as an Antidepressant in the Brain (April 2019; Discover Magazine)
- FDA Approves Ketamine Derivative as Depression Treatment for First Time (March 2019; Discover Magazine)
If you are someone you know is suffering from depression, and want to know if you are a good candidate for this treatment option, call today to make an appointment.