Ketamine — a synthetic medication used as an anesthetic agent and taken as the club drug known to recreational users as "Special K" — has been found to be as effective as antidepressants or even electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) in treating depression.
A study conducted at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine suggests IV administration of ketamine, now being prescribed by just a handful of psychiatrists to treat depression, could offer a new way to treat the mental-health condition, Fox News
This study compared three intravenous (IV) infusions of ketamine to three ECT sessions in patients who were hospitalized for severe depression. The researchers found the ketamine provided better relief, compared with ECT, and also acted more quickly.
In addition, ketamine was found to be more effective than ECT at 24 hours after treatment, 72 hours after treatment, and one week after treatment.
Ketamine is considered safe when used as directed, even in children, and is not believed to have any negative long-term side effects.