Ketamine Is Good For Oldies, Study Finds

Ask your nan what she thinks of ket. If her understanding of the popular party drug reads anything along the lines of ‘popular party drug’, odds are she’s going to clap you over the ears and tell you that stuff’s for junkies and riffraff. But she’s wrong.

Over the past few years, perceptions of ketamine as a legitimate medicinal substance have been gaining traction. Multiple studies have added credence to the belief that dipping one’s toe in a k-hole from time to time can significantly improve mood patterns and alleviate depression.

It’s not an entirely surprising development, really: that that drug you take to feel good has been scientifically proven to make you feel good. But the proposition that sad old people ought to be racking special k with their Family Feud has remained a largely unexplored frontier.

Until now.

Colleen Loo, a professor at the University of New South Wales, wanted to explore the effects of ketamine on older patients who had a history of treatment-resistant depression. To that end, she led the world’s first randomised control trial testing how the drug affected people over the age of 60 – and was met with convincing results.

“Sometimes depression in the elderly can be harder to treat, especially with medication,” she said. “[But] this trial has shown ketamine can be used safely in the elderly and it tends to be effective.”

The research, which was published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, showed that 11 of the study’s 16 participants reported an improvement in their condition while being treated with the drug. After six months, 43 per cent reported no significant symptoms of depression.

Image: Therese Borchard

Professor Loo stresses that these outcomes are not achieved superficially, either: that the patients are not merely experiencing a “temporary, drug-induced euphoria.

“The effects take place in the first hour, and they’re not euphoric at all,” she said. “In fact, all of our research participants disliked them. They considered them adverse effects.

“The antidepressant effect kicks in a few hours later and [is] maximised about 20 hours later, when you’re fully alert and in your usual state of mind.”

The study’s findings serve to further dilute the stigma around ketamine: a drug that’s already come a long way from its street rat, horse tranq associations. Somewhat fittingly, Professor Loo talks about it like it’s the latest, greatest thing.

“It is truly remarkable the way ketamine can work,” she says. “Other people have also found you get a rapid and powerful effect after a single dose of ketamine.”

You don’t say.

Source: The Independent
Feature image: Pinterest


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