UT Southwestern Medical Center scientists are shedding new light on why the anesthetic drug ketamine can within a matter of hours ease symptoms of depression in people in patients with treatment-resistant depression.
"Ketamine produces a very sharp increase that immediately relieves depression," said Dr. Lisa Monteggia, associate professor of psychiatry at UT Southwestern and senior author of the study.
Typical antidepressant medications - one of the most widely prescribed classes of drugs in the U.S. each year - often take several weeks to relieve symptoms of depression. If they are not successful within 12 weeks, physicians must prescribe a different antidepressant to produce a response.
"Ketamine produces a fast-acting antidepressant effect, and we hope our investigation provides critical information to treat depression effectively sooner," Dr. Monteggia said.
"We now have a novel pathway to explore that may provide potential for the development of faster-acting and longer-lasting antidepressants," Dr. Monteggia said.
The study was recently published in the journal Nature.