Ketamine is a general anesthetic that was first synthesized in 1962 and is used most commonly in veterinary practice as an animal tranquilizer.
It has, however, been long used on humans as a sedative, especially in patients with respiratory or circulatory problems, because it doesn’t disrupt breathing or circulation in the manner of traditional anesthetics. Ketamine has powerful dissociative and psychedelic effects, and as an antidepressant, ketamine’s S-enantiomer, “esketamine,” has twice been designated a “Breakthrough Therapy” by the FDA. In August 2016, it was fast-tracked for development as a viable medication.
One of its most redeeming features that sets it apart from traditional antidepressants is its rapid onset, where depressive symptoms improve within 4-72 hours compared to 6-12 weeks with other medications, making it a revolutionary treatment with a success rate of 85% compared to 45% with traditional antidepressants. Ketamine has shown to be highly effective in patients with treatment resistant depression, even in cases where symptoms have persisted for decades without relief, and because of its rapid onset, it’s also shown great promise in eliminating suicidal thoughts making ketamine the first emergency “anti-suicide” drug. Thousands of clinics have opened around the world to administer ketamine therapy treatment to patients and are showing just as much promise in successfully treating substance abuse, addiction and PTSD as in its treatment for depression.