Ketamine depression treatment development

An international collaboration of scientists have now isolated a Ketamine metabolite with anti-depressant qualities. The researchers hope potential breakthrough could lead to the development of future medication for severe depression that is resistant to current treatments.


Experts estimate that depression affects almost 1 in 6 of us at some point in our lives. Whilst the severity of symptoms can vary, there are major depressive disorders that can be particularly difficult to treat. Unfortunately, certain types of severe depression just do not respond to traditional antidepressants and mood stabilisers– or even in some cases – electroconvulsive therapy.

A single dose of ketamine has rapid and lasting antidepressant effects in patients with major depression or bipolar disorder. The Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HRSD) is a questionnaire used to evaluate the severity of patients’ depression. Less than two hours after ketamine application, HRSD scores decreased significantly, and the effect lasted for several days. (Image courtesy of Carlos A. Zarate)

Ketamine has recently excited mental health researchers by proving to having powerful anti-depressant qualities, which take effect more rapidly and effectively than currently available medication. For patients with depression, especially those resistant to conventional treatments, ketamine could provide the life-line so desperately needed. Nevertheless, any potential benefits for medicating depression with unadulterated Ketamine comes with the catch of unwanted dissociative, anaesthetic and addictive side-effects.


Fortunately, an international collaboration of scientists have now found a solution to the ketamine quandary. Panos Zanos, Todd Gould, and their teams at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and intramural programs of NIMH, NCATS, and NIA, managed to isolate a metabolite from Ketamine with rapid anti-depressant qualities. The mood-boosting metabolite, (2R,6R)-hydroxynorketamine, is produced as our bodies break down ketamine: yet crucially does not have the downside of ketamine’s undesirable psychoactive properties. Todd Gould is ‘cautiously optimistic’ that the study’s results from mice can be replicated in human trials. Hopefully, the newly-discovered metabolite will be proved to truly be a ‘miracle’ medication for depression – sans side-effects.

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9 thoughts on “Ketamine depression treatment development”

  1. Thank you for your insight into ketamine use. I appreciate your comments on the studies being conducted to isolate the metabolite in ketamine with the most effective anti-depressant qualities. I will keep your article in mind while I look for more good news in the future.

  2. My sister suffers from depression and she has not responded well to traditional methods in the past, so I am glad that I found this article. You make a great point that ketamine is a new option that typically works more rapidly and effectively than other available medication. This would be great for my sister because it will not take long for her to find out if the treatment is effective for her or not. I will make sure to share these benefits with her!

  3. That is really interesting that ketamine has proven to be a more effective and powerful anti-depressant than current medication. This is something that could probably help me out a lot with depression since the medications don’t seem to be working all that well. Hopefully, this will become more available soon so I can talk to my doctor.

  4. Emery Jean Chambers

    It caught my attention when you said that ketamine has proved to have great anti-depressant effect that surpasses other medications available today. If so, then I sure wonder if my friend is allowed to have that for her condition. She claims to have depression and wants to try whatever it takes to cure it. I will ask her to get herself assessed and ask if she is qualified for it.

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