Dec. 27, 2021 – The new review, published recently in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open, pulls together all published research on ketamine as a treatment for psychiatric disorders. And it found that for treatment-resistant depression and suicidal thoughts, the drug can have quick, “robust” effects — albeit short-lived.

“It is important to emphasize the drug doesn’t work for everyone,” said senior researcher Celia Morgan, a professor at the University of Exeter in England.

Nor is ketamine simple to take. It has to be given under medical supervision, Morgan noted, so doctors can watch for “dissociative” effects — or what lay people might call a “trip.”

The drug is not a psychedelic, but typically triggers altered perceptions of reality, such as hallucinations, soon after it’s given. It can also cause a short-term spike in blood pressure, Morgan said.

So before anyone tries ketamine for depression, she said, they have get a full medical and psychiatric evaluation to make sure it is appropriate for them.

Ketamine was first approved in the United States decades ago as an anesthesia drug. Because of its mind-altering effects, it also came to be abused as a party drug, known by such nicknames as “special K.”