Experts have stated that the dissociative and anesthetic effects within the drug could work as an efficient treatment for people with depression, as it works much quicker than other drugs such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
Esketamine is a more potent version of ketamine, which can be found as a nasal spray that medical professionals believe may have fewer side effects; however, no clinical trials have proven this. It is thought to believe that the boost of serotonin levels seen with the use of ketamine and esketamine both work by reprogramming the cells that affect mood and thought patterns.
Koen Demyttenaere, a psychiatrist from Belguim’s KU Leuven University, said: “We have found that both can ease depression considerably in just a few hours. This is because they’re acting on a completely different neurotransmitter to those targeted by conventional antidepressants. We’ve also found using both ketamine and esketamine results in a rapid decrease in suicidal thoughts, but it should be noted that this is sort of independent from the general antidepressant effect.”
Last year, the first ketamine clinic was opened in Bristol, England, and since then, many more have continued to open across the world for people suffering from alcohol addiction, depression or anxiety. According to the NHS, ketamine is not a licensed treatment for depression, therefore it can only be used as an anesthetic or painkiller.
So far, the use of ketamine nasal spray has been used in Belgium and has to be taken under medical supervision in a hospital setting.