Latest Issue of Science News


Ketamine's antidepressant effect explained

Potential fast-acting treatment boosts BDNF

The anesthetic ketamine works against depression by quickly boosting levels of a brain compound that has been linked to the condition, a new study in mice shows. The research may lead to highly effective and fast-acting antidepressants that provide relief within hours instead of weeks, scientists report online June 15 in Nature.

Traditional antidepressants can be effective but often take weeks or months to improve symptoms. “You can control malignant hypertension within minutes; a bad increase in blood sugar, bad migraines, asthma attacks, within minutes,” says psychiatrist Carlos Zarate of the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Md. “Yet why in psychiatry should we be satisfied with, ‘Just hang on for a few weeks or a few months, and you’re going to get better?’ That’s not acceptable in my mind.”

Note: To comment, Science News subscribing members must now establish a separate login relationship with Disqus. Click the Disqus icon below, enter your e-mail and click “forgot password” to reset your password. You may also log into Disqus using Facebook, Twitter or Google.

This article is available only to subscribing members. Join SSP today or Log in.