By Sonya Collins
Reviewed by Joseph Goldberg, MD
If you’ve heard of ketamine, it’s probably for its history of abuse as a club drug. Or maybe you have seen headlines about its potential to help treat some of the toughest cases of depression.
The drug aims straight for your brain, and that’s where both its promise and its peril lies.
Recommended Related to Depression
If you are being treated for moderate to severe depression, a doctor or psychiatrist has probably prescribed an antidepressant medication for you. When they work properly, they help to relieve symptoms and, along with other approaches such as talk therapy, are an important part of treatment. One way antidepressants work is by altering the balance of certain chemicals in your brain. And, as with all medicines, this change can cause side effects. Some, like jitteriness, weird dreams, dry mouth, and...
It works like a flash mob, temporarily taking over a certain chemical “receptor” in the brain. In some cases and with expert medical care, that can be a good thing. But cross that line, and it’s a disaster.
That’s why experts have both hailed ketamine as a possible breakthrough for depression and lamented it for its tragic effects when abused.
Ketamine and Your Body
Ketamine got its start as an anesthesia medicine on the battlefields of the Vietnam War.
“Outside of the clinic, ketamine can cause tragedies, but in the right hands, it is a miracle,” says John Abenstein, MD, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
Ketamine’s Dark Side
When misused, it can change your sense of sight and sound, cause hallucinations, and make you feel detached from your surroundings -- and even from yourself. It can make it hard to speak or move, and it has been abused as a date-rape drug.
When used recreationally at high doses, people can feel like they’re in what’s called a “K-hole.” This happens when they are on the verge of becoming unconscious.
These other side effects need emergency medical care:
- Bloody or cloudy pee
- Trouble peeing or needing to pee often
- Pale or bluish lips, skin, or fingernails
- Blurry vision
- Chest pain, discomfort, or tightness
- Shortness of breath, trouble breathing, or not breathing
- Problems with swallowing
- Dizziness, faintness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat
- Hives, itching, rash
- Puffy or swollen eyelids, face, lips, or tongue
- Feeling too excited, nervous, or restless
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
It’s possible to get addicted or need higher doses to feel the effects. (This is less likely to happen when you get ketamine for medical reasons.) An overdose can be deadly.
“Every drug that causes any change in [the senses] has been and will be abused,” Abenstein says.
source : How Does Ketamine Work and Who Does It Help?