Noting expert studies which suggest it may help people struggling with depression and suicidal ideation, the FDA has cleared the way for a variation on ketamine – an anesthetic known as Special K – for prescription.

Bloomberg has a longform feature which tells the story of Joe Wright, a 34 year old high school teacher who cycled through multiple anti-depressants in search of an escape from depression, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

His first—and only—ketamine infusion made him feel dreamlike, goofy, and euphoric. He almost immediately started feeling more hopeful about life. He was more receptive to therapy. Less than a year later, he married. Today he says his dark moods are remote and manageable. Suicidal thoughts are largely gone. “If they had told me how much it would affect me, I wouldn’t have believed it,” Wright says. “It is unconscionable that it is not already approved for suicidal patients.”


As the rates of suicide have skyrocketed in the United States (up 30% over the last 17 years), the reluctance of drug researches to test anti-depressants on actually suicidal patients has been eclipsed by the sense of emergency.

Research into the potential therapeutic effects of Ketamine began in the mid-1990s. Within a few hours, patients (who were given a microdose compared to common street usage) reported a feeling of wellness. The instantaneous results surprised the researchers – most anti-depressants take weeks if not months to show any effects.

“We were shocked,” says [Professor John] Krystal, who now chairs the Yale psychiatry department. “We didn’t submit the results for publication for several years.”


The first drug based on Ketamine, from Johnson & Johnson, may be approved as soon as March 2019 for “treatment-resistant depression” and for suicidal patients within the next two years, according to Bloomberg.

Read this the fascinating story of the breakthrough studies using variations of Ketamine here.


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