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mental health mondays :: more health benefits of special k

no, not the breakfast cereal. i'm talking really special k here. the dissociative anesthetic that's become a recreational hallucinogen and sometime date rape drug may have some pretty important uses, according to a new study that's been published in the u.k.

taken at doses significantly lower than surgical or recreational ones, the drug has shown startling effectiveness in relieving treatment-resistant depression. what do they mean by that term? it means a form of depression that shows little to no improvement, or only very short term improvement, when treated with therapy and/ or standard antidepressant medications. you know what other drugs work on treatment-resistant depression? none of them.

it might come as a shock to find out that the go-to treatment for depression that just won't quit is still electroshock therapy [or electroconvulsive therapy as it's now known]. as barbaric as the practice is perceived to be [patients are now sedated while it is performed, so there's no "one flew over the cuckoo's nest" sort of scene], there is a lot of evidence that it's more effective than any other treatment for severe depression. the problem is that the effect doesn't tend to last that long- about half of treated patients remit within six months- and there is a significant controversy within the scientific community as to whether or not it's safe to keep zapping someone's brain twice a year for the rest of their life. [controversy doesn't mean it's necessarily dangerous, just that there's no consensus. electroconvulsive therapy is safe enough that it is sometimes recommended for women during pregnancy, whereas antidepressant drugs are supposed to be discontinued prior to even becoming pregnant, if possible.]

the promising aspect of ketamine treatment is that it does not have the nasty short-term effects of ect [memory loss and cognitive difficulties] and that it is effective in a much shorter time than other antidepressant drugs like ssri's. although there are studies that show that continued recreational use of ketamine is linked to health problems, that data is based on usage that is more frequent and at higher doses. the effects do not appear to be as long-lasting as they are with ect, but ketamine does seem to bring relief for up two a couple of months per treatment.

and this isn't the first time that a study has shown ketamine's positive effects in fighting depression. it isn't even the first time that i've written about it on the blog. this is just one piece of evidence that points to one

so it seems that ketamine may be taking its place alongside drugs like lsd and crystal meth as a drug whose medicinal value has been grossly underestimated.

[ahem. i am aware that it is tuesday. i got wrapped up watching the provincial election results last night and didn't get around to posting this. but i do know it is tuesday, in case you were wondering.]

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