Ketamine, notorious club drug, shows promise as a treatment for depression, studies indicate

Sabrina Misra suffered from depression for most of her life, but last summer, it became almost too heavy to bear.

Despite years of therapy and a trove of medications, Misra, 36, had become so despondent that she started planning her suicide. But before she acted, her psychiatrist introduced her to a new treatment with an unusual back story.

The treatment was ketamine, an anesthetic used to sedate both people and animals before surgery. It’s also a notorious street drug, abused by clubgoers seeking a trancelike, hallucinatory high.

But in recent years, numerous studies have found that ketamine can be an effective and speedy treatment for people with depression — particularly those who, like Misra, have found little relief from traditional medications.

“After the first couple of treatments it didn’t seem to work, but after I hit my fourth one, everything started to change,” said Misra, a therapist and college instructor who lives in Lisle. “I went from actively wanting to kill myself to being fine.”

 

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