“Special K” as Antidepressant: Short-term Gain; Long-term ?


Ketamine (known in social circles as “Special K”) has been touted as a rapid-acting and “profound” treatment for depression. The Journal of Psychosocial Nursing reviews the research, finding “although single doses of ketamine have rapid antidepressant effects that last for up to 1 week, the extent and duration of this antidepressant effect over longer periods has not been well-characterized under controlled conditions.”

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Howland, R. Ketamine for the Treatment of Depression. Journal of Psychosocial Nursing. January 2013, 51(1) 11-14

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. Now Peter Breggin talks about the brain disabling treatments of psychaitry. My guess is that giving a horse tranquliser to a human being leaves you fairly out of it and it takes about a week for the brian to recover. So you’re not really thinking depressive thougths as you’re not really thinking about much.

    Depression, in the classic definition, is about turning against yourself and blaming yourself for anything bad that has happened. No drugs will fix that although they may help a person get moving so that they can do the work of reasessing thier life. But for some people someone taking them for a drive in the country can have the same effect.

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  2. I talked to a psychiatrist who investigated ketamine clinically and he said results were inconsistent, some patients responded and some didn’t, the ones who responded to the first dose didn’t respond a second time.

    This one has no future.

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  3. Gosh, you think they might find this stuff is addictive? Since it’s already used as a recreational drug? Oh, wait, it’s probably only addictive for people who AREN’T depressed. For depressed people, it’s just what they need.

    That they’d even consider such an idea just shows how desperate and misguided and unethical they all are. It’s a bogus profession.

    — Steve

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