Teens call it "Special K," a club drug that produces hallucinatory, out-of-body effects. But evidence is mounting that it's also a fast-acting treatment for patients with severe depression.
The latest study shows that ketamine, an FDA-approved anesthetic, can act in a matter of days for some people who don't respond to traditional antidepressants. Those drugs don't work for 40 percent of patients.
When it comes to profound depression, many people just can't get relief from current treatments.
Now there's more evidence that the anesthetic ketamine, sometimes abused as a club drug, has potential as a fast-acting treatment for the condition.
Doctors at the Mayo Clinic gave 10 patients ketamine twice a week as an infusion that lasted 100 minutes. All the people had depression that had resisted other treatments. The patients got ketamine until their symptoms abated or they'd had four infusions of the drug.
As far back as he can remember, George McCann lived in fear. When he was asleep he would have horrific nightmares filled with violent images. When he was awake, he often felt threatened by people, including members of his own family. And when he felt threatened, he would become aggressive, even violent.
George spent his childhood certain that something very bad was going to happen. And when he was 12, it did. His unrelenting fears led to a violent outburst at school. And George landed in a psychiatric hospital.