Party drug may help treat depression

An illegal party drug called ketamine may be an effective treatment for people with clinical depression, according to a new study from the U.K.

Scientists from Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust conducted a small trial on 28 people with depression, many of whom had had incurable symptoms for decades. The participants were given doses of ketamine over 40 minutes on up to six occasions.

Nearly 30 percent of the patients reported improved symptoms following the trial, half of which showed enough improvement to no longer be classified as clinically depressed. Some of the patients began to show improvements in symptoms in fewer than six hours after their first infusion of ketamine.

Researchers said that the study’s findings suggest that ketamine may be an “exciting” and “dramatic” treatment for depression. However, they added that many additional studies would be necessary before the drug could be used as a routine treatment for depression patients. The findings, published in the Journal of Psychopharmacology, warned that ketamine has serious side effects and that people should not attempt to self-medicate. The beneficial effects of the drug also appeared to only be short-term, as some of the patients relapsed within days, while others experienced benefits for up to three months.

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