Ketamine clinics are springing up across the United States. Low, intravenous doses have been found to boost mood and curb suicidal thoughts. But, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration hasn’t approved it as a treatment for depression.
Former APA President Dr. Alan Schatzberg says that the lack of information is quite dramatic when you look at the proliferation of use in certain communities. He also helped in writing an APA statement about ketamine urging caution.
Schatzberg said there are no data on use of ketamine beyond four weeks. So, its not known whether people will develop tolerance, if there is dependence, or there are unidentified side effects. The drug is not meant or designed for continuing use, he said. It can cause psychotic reactions- including hallucinations and dissociation- a sense of being disconnected from one’s body and the world. He said it isn’t clear how ketamine works to improve mood.
A common theory is that it affects the brain’s response to the neurotransmitter glutamate. Neurotransmitters are chemicals that send signals from one part of the brain to another and from the brain to the body. It is believed that ketamine rewires the brain.
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