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Old drug gives new hope for depression sufferers

Those who do not suffer from depression, just like those who do not suffer from migraines, have a hard time understanding how it can be debilitating. But depression can certainly be debilitating. For some, depression makes it hard to function, to hold down a job, or maintain relationships. Some even entertain thoughts of suicide.

Some people respond to standard medications which work on the serotonin and noradrenalin brain receptor systems. For those who do not respond sufficiently to standard drugs, there is new hope from an old drug. Ketamine, also called Special K, is showing new promise with its ability to treat those with debilitating depression. Depending upon its severity, depression is one of the mental conditions for which one could obtain Social Security disability benefits.

According to reliable sources, ketamine acts on the brain in a different manner compared to the standard reuptake inhibitors. Apparently, ketamine in animal studies has been shown to promote the growth of brain nerve-cells. Studies have also shown that ketamine targets brain receptors that activate through glutamate transmitters. The glutamate works with the synapses, which in turn work with the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, which in turn works with moods.

Johnson & Johnson as well as AstraZeneca are looking into its development for use among patients with depression and suicidal tendencies. Unlike modern mainstream depression drugs which must build up in the system, ketamine could be injected for immediate relief.

Apparently the drug was originally a horse tranquilizer. It also has hallucinogenic properties which led to its use as a street drug. In a nutshell, it is a drug which can cause psychosis in a normal person, and normalcy in a severely depressed person.

For anyone who has severe depressive episodes and suicidal tendencies, it is a good idea to consult with legal as well as medical professionals to determine what individual assistance might be available.

Source: Bloomberg Businessweek, "Special K for Depression Renews Hope in Hallucinogens," Jason Gale, Makiko Kitamura and Allison Connolly, July 9, 2012

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