NPR reports on the use of Ketamine to treat acute depression.
As a recovering addict this idea brings some fear and trepidation. As a former addiction counselor, the need to work as hard as is necessary, to find relevant and curative treatments for the plague that is addiction, this offers some hope. As a pissed off, and first person consumer, angry with the shelf life of antidepressants and their helpfulness – and the incredible expense involved, this is an interesting possible solution in the initial phases, and well worth investigating. Somehow I see it as another medical marijuana debate waiting to happen while masses of people continue to suffer at the hands of an insurance system and paranoid government unwilling to look at what really works and to continue down the path of finding the highest bidder to help regulate the solution.
The cynic said that.
The Following is an excerpt from NPR’s Could A Club Drug Offer ‘Almost Immediate’ Relief From Depression:
Ketamine has been used as an anesthetic for decades. It’s also a widely popular but illegal club drug known as “Special K.” When administered in low doses, patients report a rapid reduction in depression symptoms.
There’s no quick fix for severe depression.
Although antidepressants like Prozac have been around since the 1970s, they usually take weeks to make a difference. And for up to 40 percent of patients, they simply don’t work.
As a result, there are limited options when patients show up in an emergency room with suicidal depression.
The doctors and nurses at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston say they see this problem every day.
You can get a sense of what they’re up against by visiting the cavernous, bustling emergency center at Ben Taub, which is part of the massive Texas Medical Center. More than 100,000 patients a year get emergency care here, and about 5,000 of them need psychiatric evaluation.
The hospital’s 24-hour Psychiatric Emergency Center gets a steady stream of people with suicidal depression, says Charlzetta McMurray-Horton, who is in charge of mental health nursing.
Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston sees 100,000 emergency patients a year, 5,000 of whom need psychiatric evaluation.
“If the police bring them in, they’re going to come through this door,” McMurray-Horton says, pointing to one entrance. “If the ambulance brings them in, they’re going to come through this door,” she says, pointing to a different entrance.
And one of the challenges in treating these severely depressed patients is that there simply isn’t any drug that provides quick relief, says Anu Matorin, medical director of the Psychiatric Emergency Center.
Matorin talks about one recent patient. The woman had suffered bouts of depression since college, Matorin says. But after she had a baby, it became severe. She stopped eating and sleeping. She began to think about suicide.
Finally, the woman made a desperate call to her mother, Matorin says.
“She was very emotional, very tearful, not making sense,” Matorin says. “She says, ‘I just can’t take it anymore. I don’t know how to feed the child.’ The mother could hear the infant crying in the background.”
The family called 911, and the woman arrived at the hospital with a police escort. Matorin says she evaluated the woman and put her on antidepressants.
Then came the hard part, Matorin says. She knew the drugs might help the woman eventually. But they weren’t going to do anything about her suicidal thoughts during the next few critical days.
So Matorin did the only thing she could for her patient. She admitted her to the hospital’s locked inpatient unit.
I ask to see the facility, so McMurray-Horton takes me there.