While depression currently lacks a definitive cure, especially a miracle cure, ketamine seems to making strides. After years of clinical studies, the FDA approved a ketamine nasal spray for severe depression in 2019.
Ketamine was first used in the 1960s as an anesthetic. Later, it proved useful for pain relief. Unfortunately, ketamine also has a dark side: it is used illegally as a club drug and has been used as a date rape drug. Now, in a nasal spray format and used in conjunction with oral antidepressants, it’s offering promising results for depression.
A small number of approved doctors have begun prescribing ketamine for treatment-resistant depression with positive results. People with severe depression have seen improvements in their symptoms quickly—within mere hours. Traditional antidepressants can take weeks to months to have full effect. Ketamine has also helped people who have had suicidal ideation and behaviour.
Doctors remain hopeful but cautions. Ketamine for depression is too new to know the long-term effects. Further, it carries risk of serious side-effects such as abuse, tolerance and addiction.