Research suggests new drug targets for depression

Published: November, 2010

Pilot studies of ketamine intrigue scientists, but risks of this anesthetic limit its clinical use.

Two small government-funded randomized controlled trials — one conducted in patients with treatment-resistant major depression and the other in those with treatment-resistant bipolar depression — have found that a single infusion of the anesthetic ketamine rapidly and significantly restored mood, energy, and interests. Although intriguing, at this point the results are more useful to researchers than to clinicians. Even at low doses, ketamine has significant side effects. Abused at higher doses, the drug is known on the streets as "Special K."

To continue reading this article, you must log in.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise

New subscriptions to Harvard Health Online are temporarily unavailable. Click the button below to learn about our other subscription offers.

Learn More »