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Thursday, August 17, 2006

A near-instant cure for depression?

Michael Fumento indicates that clinical trials offer real hope.

I know some people who suffered from major depression, too--it's as grim as it gets. One person said they had an insight into perdition afterward: "Hell is a place where the only sound you can hear is your own voice."

Churchill had dark bouts his entire life, calling it his "black dog" and confiding that he stayed back toward the wall at train stations for fear he might throw himself on the tracks.

Anyway, back to the good news:

This is what’s so exciting about a treatment conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It’s an injection, not a pill (No, that’s not the exciting part) of a substance called ketamine. Since 1970, ketamine has been used as a general anesthetic for both humans and animals. Given in doses too low to cause anesthesia, it relieved depression in as little as two hours.

The study, appearing in the August Archives of General Psychiatry, comprised 17 depressed patients randomly assigned to receive either an injection of ketamine or a placebo. For 71% of those receiving the real deal, depression improved within a single day. Indeed, 29% became nearly free symptom free. Thirty-five percent of patients who received ketamine were still feeling better a week later. Patients receiving the placebo reported no improvement. No patients had serious side effects.

A week later, in a cross-over study, participants were given the opposite treatment unless they were still benefiting from the ketamine. Those with no benefit from the placebo were now helped while those who had received the real thing the first time but the fake stuff this time had no improvement.

More spectacularly, these were all treatment-resistant patients. They had tried an average of six medicines each without relief.

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