The word you may have heard in the dark corners or the bathrooms of your favourite club in the early hours of the morning, is now being used clinically to treat severe cases of depression.
During trials in the United States, patients were treated with six IV drips containing Ketamine over the course of a two-week period. Of course, the dosage is not what you may have encountered in a social setting - it is a micro-dose, not nearly enough to trigger its anaesthetic effects. What separates Ketamine from regular anti-depressants is that the effects are felt within a matter of minutes, rather than what is normally many months or even years.
Dennis Hartman, a patient from Seattle who undertook the treatment, was quoted by the Washington Post that the unconventional treatment saved his life:
"My life will always be divided into the time before that first infusion and the time after."
"That sense of pain and suffering draining away. I was bewildered by the absence of pain" he says.
A San Francisco psychiatrist, L. Alison McInnes remarks that "it's the next big thing in psychiatry." McInnes herself has enrolled 58 severely depressed patients in the treatment, and has since seen a long-term success rate of 60% for people with treatment-resistant depression.
Definitely not what you'd expect from a chemical that is often quoted in dingy nightclubs, but what are your thoughts? Should Australia undertake their own clinical trials? Are the ethics behind the use of the chemical agreeable, or is it the scientific breakthrough we have been waiting for? Let us know!