A fast-acting treatment which helps severely depressed experience pleasure again

Posted on October 30, 2014

Researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health have been testing the effects of a single dose of ketamine on people with bipolar disorder.

When depressed, bipolar patients find it difficult to seek out and experience rewards — they feel there is nothing to look forward to. The drug works by changing how people think about rewards.

The first effect of ketamine was to reduce patients’ anhedonia within 40 minutes: they could once again anticipate and experience pleasure. After two hours, the drugs anti-depressant effects will also be felt. This reduction in anhedonia could still be detected two weeks after the single dose.

Brain scans revealed that the drug likely works by changing the way the motivational parts of the brain respond to imagining and taking part in pleasurable experiences.

That said, the drug is not currently licensed to treat depression and abusing it can lead to delirium, hallucinations and even amnesia.

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Source material from PSY Blog


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