By Nikki Harper
Staff Writer for Wake Up World
A promising new study reveals that low doses of ketamine could be effective – quickly – in forms of depression which have been resistant to other treatment. Guest writer Kaia Roman has previously shared with Wake Up World readers her personal experience of having ketamine infusions to treat anxiety, but now it seems that the drug may also hold hope for other mental health issues too.
The potential benefits of ketamine for depression have been known for some time – indeed the new study, from the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, says that “Subanesthetic dosing of ketamine has brought about a paradigm shift in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD), with therapeutic effects within hours rather than weeks.” The precise mechanism for this effect, was, however unknown – until now.
The Karolinska Institutet study involved 30 participants with difficult to treat depression; 20 of those were randomly chosen to receive ketamine infusions, while the remaining 10 received placebo saline infusions. In this double-blind study, neither clinicians nor patients were aware of who was receiving the ketamine. Between 24 and 72 hours following the infusion, participants brains were imaged using a PET (positron emission tomography) camera. Over 70% of those who received the ketamine infusions twice a week for two weeks reported that they had felt an improvement in their symptoms, with 48% achieving remission .
The PET imaging process used a radioactive marker which specifically binds to serotonin 1B receptors, enabling the researchers to discover that ketamine operates via these receptors, reducing the release of serotonin but increasing the release of dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with the brain’s reward system, helping people to feel positive, motivated and fulfilled – feelings which are often severely lacking in hard to treat depression.
Although ketamine is very fast acting, it does have addictive potential, so may not be suitable for all recipients. A nasal spray containing ketamine has recently received US and EU approval for patients with treatment-resistant depression, but the Karolinska researchers believe that their discovery may lead in a different direction. Having shown for the first time how ketamine binds with serotonin 1B receptors, they believe that this could be a key to finding new drugs which will do likewise. “It’ll be interesting to examine in future studies if this receptor can be a target for new, effective drugs that don’t have the adverse effects of ketamine,” said Johan Lundberg, research group leader at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet .
-  https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2020/05/200531200337.htm
-  https://www.nature.com/articles/s41398-020-0844-4#Sec10
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About the author:
Nikki Harper is a spiritualist writer, astrologer, and editor for Wake Up World. She writes about divination, astrology, mediumship and spirituality at Questionology: Astrology and Divination For the Modern World where you can also find out more about her work as a freelance astrologer and her mind-body-spirit writing and editing services. Nikki also runs a spiritualist centre in North Lincs, UK, hosting weekly mediumship demonstrations and a wide range of spiritual development courses and workshops.