Breakthrough study finds new mechanism explaining ketamine’s antidepressant effects

A team at the University of Illinois at Chicago has uncovered a new mechanism that helps explain the remarkably rapid, and long-lasting, antidepressant effects of the controversial drug ketamine. The exciting research reveals the drug operates in a similar way to conventional SSRI antidepressants, except is it significantly more effective.

For decades, there has been a growing body of anecdotal evidence suggesting ketamine has extraordinarily rapid antidepressant effects. Originally developed as an anesthetic, before moving into recreational circles due to its psychedelic and dissociative qualities, the drug is now being seriously investigated for its uniquely novel effects on the brain.

Research over recent years has generally focused on ketamine’s effect in blocking a protein receptor in the brain called N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA). This action, unique to ketamine, is what has generally been thought to be the primary mechanism behind the drug’s rapid antidepressant effects.

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