Ketamine Being Eyed As A Treatment For Depression, PTSD In Veterans

The Veterans Administration (VA) is currently looking into clinical uses of the so-called "club drug."

ketamine might be a treatment for depression
AlexLMX / Shutterstock

The Veterans Administration (VA) is currently looking into clinical uses of the so-called "club drug."

Ketamine is being considered by the Veterans Administration (VA) as a possible treatment for depression and Post Traumatic Stress Disorders (PTSD) in veterans who have not responded to more traditional medicines, Task and Purpose is reporting.

Also known as “Special K,” Ketamine was originally developed as an analgesic (pain reliever), being used on the battlefields in Vietnam and then as a veterinary medicine. In humans, according to Web MD, it’s what’s known as a “dissociative” – that is, it can make the user feel disconnected from his or her self, as well as limit mobility in the arms and legs, as well as even cause hallucinations. For these reasons, it’s become known as a “club drug,” that is, popular among young people visiting music and dance clubs. It’s also become useful as a date-rape drug.

It’s also starting to show promise as a treatment for severed, intractable depression. John Abenstein, MD, former president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists, called it nothing short of a “miracle.”

“Outside of the clinic, Ketamine can cause tragedies, but in the right hands, it is a miracle.”

And as the Inquisitr reported in April, a Ketamine nasal spray has been developed, and it shows promise in curbing depression and suicidal thoughts.

As is always the case with these things, though, more research is needed, and there will have to be double-blind clinical trials, peer-reviewed academic articles on the subject, and so on. And there’s also the matter that some doctors will be loathed to prescribe a medicine that has a history as a “club drug.”

Now, none other than the Veterans Administration is conducting research on the drug.

Two major research projects are currently underway at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in Ohio. There, Dr. Punit Vaidya is studying the effects of Ketamine on patients suffering from treatment-refractory depression – that is, patients who don’t respond to traditional depression medicines.

“Unfortunately about 30% of individuals with major depression don’t respond to medications. So people can become desperate for things that work, because they can have a huge impact on their quality of life, and their overall functioning.”

The effects of the treatment can be seen in some patients in as little as four hours, says Dr. Vaidya.

Right now, Vaidya’s team is looking at Ketamine with a three-pronged approach. First, is it useful as a short-term treatment for an acutely-depressed person; second, can it work as a “stop-gap” measure to stabilize an acutely suicidal patient; and third, can it work as a “bridge” to hold the patient over until more traditional medicines can be used.

It will be months if not years before the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves Ketamine for “off-label” use – that is, for use as anything other than an analgesic or anesthetic.