Ketamine, a tranquilizer/anesthetic and recreational drug, can relieve symptoms of depression for up to a couple of weeks, writes psychiatrist Emily Deans.
The Ketamine Key: The horse tranquilizer helps depressed patients experience pleasure again
In a recent paper, researchers described how they used a noncompetitive inhibitor of the NMDA receptor and partial dopamine receptor agonist, ketamine to rapidly reverse the symptoms of anhedonia in depressed patients. Ketamine has been featured on CBS news for its ability to quickly relieve depression unlike any other pharmacologic agent we have. It is typically used intravenously, and can cause hallucinations and dissociation (in fact it is also known as the club drug “Special K"). However, it seems to be able to reverse damage to the synapses caused by chronic stress, and relieve the symptoms of depression very quickly, within 30-40 minutes.
The down side to ketamine (besides lack of FDA approval for depression, the hallucinations, and lack of general availability) is that the effects don’t last. If you are lucky, you get a couple of weeks, then the depression comes back. Researchers and doctors, however, are hoping ketamine could be used as a bridging agent in seriously depressed, hospitalized patients, allowing them to feel better immediately while other, longer acting but much slower onset agents have a chance to get into the system and do their work. The immediate reversal of the key symptom of anhedonia [inability to experience pleasure] may be an even more important lesson we can learn from the use of ketamine.
"I'm sure most of you have heard the story of the man who, desperately ill, goes to an analyst and tells the doctor that he has lost his desire to live and that he is seriously considering suicide.
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The first of four studies on a poorly-understood link between sleep quality and depression indicates that when antidepressant medication and insomnia therapy are used together
, recovery from depression is more thorough, and faster. (Thanks, Miles O'Brien)
Some kinds of antidepressants might pose a risk to embryos and fetuses at certain stages in their development
. But depression in the mother also puts fetuses at risk, so whether or not a pregnant woman should take antidepressants is still a really complicated question. The answer depends a lot of individual experience of depressive symptoms, which drugs are taken, and when. As with most things relating to pregnancy and health, there's not a solid one-size-fits-all answer and individuals still have to weigh risks and make hard choices alone.
Miss Cakehead writes, "The Depressed Cake Shop will be like nothing ever seen before as it will sell ONLY grey coloured cakes. Raising money for mental health charities, it will also provide a platform for discussion of the illness. The pop up is based in the UK but with other events starting to be planned around the globe."
The Depressed Cake Shop
The amazing and wonderful Hyperbole and a Half is back, with the long-overdue continuation of the 2011 post on depression. This isn't an entirely upbeat post (as you might expect), but it is every bit as indispensable and smart and great as the previous entries. And it's an ultimately hopeful one, too.
And that's the most frustrating thing about depression. It isn't always something you can fight back against with hope. It isn't even something — it's nothing. And you can't combat nothing. You can't fill it up. You can't cover it. It's just there, pulling the meaning out of everything. That being the case, all the hopeful, proactive solutions start to sound completely insane in contrast to the scope of the problem.
It would be like having a bunch of dead fish, but no one around you will acknowledge that the fish are dead. Instead, they offer to help you look for the fish or try to help you figure out why they disappeared.
Hyperbole and a Half: Depression Part Two
Author and NYU professor Clay Shirky writes
about one of the imperatives he believes the death of Aaron Swartz should bring to life: "We need to take care of the people in our community who are depressed," he writes.
Suicide is not hard to understand, not intellectually anyway. It is, as Jeff Atwood says, the ultimate in ragequitting. But for most of us, it is hard to understand emotionally.
For a variety of reasons, I’ve spent a lot of time with people at risk of suicide, and so have become an amateur scholar of that choice. When I first started reading about it, I thought of it as the last stop on a road of stress and upset — when things get bad, people suffer, and when they get really bad, they take their own lives.
And what I learned was that this view is wrong. Suicide is no more a heightened reaction to the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune than depression is just being extra sad. Most of us won’t kill ourselves, no matter how bad things get. The common thread among people who commit suicide is that they are suicidal.
Read more: Remembering Aaron by taking care of each other (Clay Shirky blog)
magazine sez, "We've gotten such a strong response to this and wanted to make sure anyone who knew Aaron - or who simply knew OF him - got a chance to hear the hour-long tribute
from Wednesday's 'Off The Hook' radio program in New York, a show he was a guest on only a few months ago. We played an excerpt of that, along with part of an incredible interview with Aaron at age 14 that underlines what a remarkable person he was. We also delved into the issue of depression in our community with excerpts from the 'Geeks and Depression' panel at HOPE Number Nine, and we had a roundtable discussion on what we can do better and where people at risk can turn. It's part of a continuing conversation that we need to have in every conceivable forum.
RECOMMEND: Follow RUBEN BOLLING on TWITTER.
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Hyperbole and a Half, the brilliant, frenetic, illustrated memoir, tackles sudden depression, its effects and eventual cure in the long awaited new installment.
I spent months shut in my house, surfing the internet on top of a pile of my own dirty laundry which I set on the couch for "just a second" because I experienced a sudden moment of apathy on my way to the washer and couldn't continue. And then, two weeks later, I still hadn't completed that journey. But who cares - it wasn't like I had been showering regularly and sitting on a pile of clothes isn't necessarily uncomfortable. But even if it was, I couldn't feel anything through the self hatred anyway, so it didn't matter. JUST LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE.
Adventures in Depression
(via Beth Pratt)