Depression and recreational drugs are both topics which seem to incite high levels of stigma and one-dimensional thinking. With an overarching dogmatic approach employed by governments and media to further facilitate these stigmas, it's no wonder that these are touchy subjects.
However, due to recent developments in the legalization of marijuana and recreational cannabis, other drugs are now being investigated to analyze their potential health benefits, both physical and mental.
The facts and studies
Recently, professor of biology and biochemistry, Bernhard Luscher, and his team from Penn State University have been testing the potent party drug Ketamine in treating symptoms of depression in lab mice. Luscher’s team introduced a genetic mutation into the subject mice which reduces the GABA (an abundant nerve chemical) signalling in the brain. This reduction in GABA is a key cause of depression and depressive-like symptoms. These subject mice also had reductions in their responsiveness of glutamate, another chemical which acts on nerve-cell activity (much like GABA).
Treating the mice with Ketamine saw a restoration of both GABA and glutamate levels in the mice' brain, and had a positive homeostatic effect. Luscher’s team hypothesized that one ketamine treatment was enough to see this restoration, as it had a quick onset with long lasting effects.
Treatments and outreach
Ketamine treatment centres are becoming the latest buzz for those brave enough to breach the stigma and reach out. Many potential patients are diametrically opposed to even the thought of using a "party drug," but have exhausted most, if not all other resources in treating their mental ailments. These treatment centres, although pricey, give us another avenue for tackling a disease roughly 20% of the population will have some time in their lives.
With anti-depressants having poor retention rates among their users due to their lack of efficiency, Ketamine treatments may be the solution to re-infusing vitality in our families, friends and all those affected by this debilitating mental disease.
“K-Land” may be slang for the dissociative high experienced on a dose of Ketamine, but it may just be the place we find salvation from the crippling effects of depression.