Club Drug 'Special K' Could Treat Depression

Study suggests drug for physical pain could treat psychological pain too

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted May 21, 2013 10:56 AM CDT

(Newser) – Doctors use it as an anesthetic and ravers use it to hallucinate, but a new study indicates that ketamine might have another trick up its sleeve: treating depression. A new study found that the drug the kids call "Special K" is effective at treating major depression compared to an active placebo, LiveScience reports.

While past studies had suggested that might be the case, the drug's mind-altering properties made it tough to test against a placebo; it was pretty obvious when you'd gotten the real deal. So the new study gave half of its participants ketamine, and the other half midazolam, a similar anesthetic not tied to depression improvement. Two-thirds of the ketamine group saw their symptoms improve immediately, with the effect lasting for a full week, compared to one third of the midazolam group. It's worth noting, however, that the findings have not yet been verified by a peer-reviewed journal.

A vial of ketamine
A vial of ketamine   (Wikimedia/Psychonaut)
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