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Ketamine has accumulated mounting evidence that it offers an effective solution for quickly reducing the symptoms of depression when administered medically. But what about ketamine makes it so effective so quickly? Scientists are now seeking to answer that question. 

Microscope - Research instrument

Ketamine has been around for nearly a century. It was initially used as an anesthetic and as an animal tranquilizer. It’s now gained a reputation as a party drug.

Eventually, someone made the connection between patients who had received ketamine as an anesthetic and also experienced relief from depression following anesthesia.

Research out of Yale, lead by its Chair of Psychiatry Dr. John Krystal, has shown ketamine providing relief for, and in some cases curing, chronic depression in 70% of patients.


Quick And Lasting Relief From Depression With Ketamine

Further research from scientists and experiences from patients confirm that ketamine not only works for relieving depression, but it also provides quick and lasting relief.

Why do we see better results from Ketamine than standard antidepressants?

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine led by Prof. Mark Rasenick sought to answer this question in a study published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

Depressed girl image

Cell Biology And Depression

In a prior study, Prof. Rasenick and his team discovered that standard antidepressants inactivate G-proteins by taking them off lipid rafts in cells. What does that mean? Get ready for a biology lesson:

G proteins help pass messages from the outside to the inside of a cell. They also produce cyclic AMP, another messenger that used by the nervous system.

Lipid Rafts hold the machinery necessary for all this messaging.

Prof. Rasenick’s earlier study found that people suffering from depression have too many G-proteins packed on their lipid rafts which deactivates the G-proteins from messaging. These deactivated G-proteins reduce neuronal signaling, which has been linked to depression.

Anti-Depressants Vs. Ketamine

When someone takes a standard anti-depressant, the medication forces itself onto the lipid rafts and makes the G-proteins disembark and reactivate.

“When G proteins move out of the lipid rafts, it allows for better communication among brain cells, which is known to help alleviate some of the symptoms of depression,” Prof. Rasenick said.

Great. But why is ketamine faster and longer lasting?

Ketamine Depression

Ketamine Works Faster And Lasts Longer

Prof. Rasenick’s latest study found that G-proteins disembarked a lot faster with ketamine treatments  – to the tune of just 15 minutes. And it took a heck-of-a-lot longer for them to want to reload the lipid raft.

“Whether they are moved out by traditional antidepressants or ketamine, it doesn’t matter, although, with ketamine, the G proteins are very slow to move back into the lipid rafts, which would explain the drug’s long-term effects on depressive symptoms,” Prof. Rasenick said.

For more information on this study and its potential impacts, we suggested you read this article from Medical News Today.

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