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Could Club Drug “Special K” Be the Cure for Depression?

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Could a club drug ease the effects of depression? A new study says yes and that the drug may work better than prescription medications in relieving severe, suicidal depression. Ketamine, also known as Special K on the club scene, is being used in experimental trials for patients who suffer severe and debilitating depression and has had some surprising and drastic results.

Ketamine has been used for decades as a club drug for illegal recreational use and is said to have "anesthetic" effects. Mental health experts have taken a hard look at the drug because of reports that it has almost immediate effects on severe depression, whereas drugs like Prozac can take months to work. Doctors at Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, TX have begun the trials with patients like Heather Merrill, the mother of three children, who has suffered from depression most of her life. She experiences bouts so severe that she can hardly take care of herself, let alone her children, but experienced almost instant relief when researchers inserted an IV into her arm.

Heather won't know whether the IV she received administered ketamine or a sedative until the results of the study are released, but Heather is pretty sure that it was ketamine flowing into her veins. She reported a sense of calm and serene that she never felt before with any other anti-depressant medications. Some of the doctors think she is right, considering her completely changed demeanor. Heather isn't the only patient to experience such drastic effects–in fact, researchers say it has been difficult to conduct a good study on ketamine since they can almost immediately figure out who has been given the drug and who has received a sedative.