Ketamine metabolite may alleviate depression without side effects

Ketamine metabolite may alleviate depression without side effects

With an increasing number of people facing the growing challenge of depression, one of the major hurdles before medical practitioners is ensuring effective treatment and diagnosis. In a bid to treat depression, scientists and medical practitioners have stumbled upon many interesting treatments. Of all, ketamine has become increasingly popular as a treatment due to its effectiveness in treating depression in a matter of few hours compared to antidepressants. Therefore, all efforts are being made to roll it out.

Ketamine is an anesthetic medication that offers an intravenous solution in treating depression when administered in low doses. However, its use for the treatment of depression is often met with profound hesitancy because even low doses are known to cause some debilitating side effects, such as disassociation from one’s thoughts, feelings and sense of identity.

With several studies highlighting that the treatment potential of ketamine can be tapped without triggering the above side effects, the need of the hour is to use it for the treatment of depression. This current article highlights the use of ketamine in the treatment of depression without incurring its side effects.

HNK: A new hope for treating depression

Ketamine is classified as a drug that blocks neurochemical receptors on nerve cells known as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. It is activated when glutamate binds to these nerve cells and plays an important role in the maintenance and formation of neural connections. In addition, ketamine entails two symmetrical structural forms, one of which is more effective in blocking the NMDA receptors.

A study, funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and published in the journal Nature in May 2016, suggests that ketamine metabolites produce the same antidepressant effects without evoking its side effects. Ketamine metabolites are the substances formed when the body breaks down ketamine.

In the study, the researchers measured the antidepressant action of NMDA receptor blockers in lowering the depressive symptoms in mice. Among the identical structural forms of ketamine, the researchers found that the structural form that exhibits weaker NMDA receptor blockers is more effective.

The researchers also discovered that a ketamine metabolite known as hydroxynorketamine (HNK) is pharmacologically active and viable. Moreover, HNK was found to be three times more effective in female mice than in male mice. This is perhaps because of the fact that female mice are more responsive to the antidepressant effects of ketamine than male mice.

Further research with the assistance of NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences was able to ascertain that ketamine’s antidepressant effects needed to be broken down into HNK first. This was reflected in mice that were treated with a single dose of HNK. The mice displayed the signs of improvement in their depressive symptoms that lasted for many days.

The most important matter to note is that the treatment with HNK does not cause any side effect, which is probably because HNK does not block NMDA receptors like ketamine. This is an encouraging finding for both patients and medical practitioners. In fact, researchers are quite optimistic about the prospect of finding a new drug based on HNK.

Unlike the treatment with ketamine, the administration of HNK did not cause any changes in the physical activity, coordination or sensory perception of the mice. Additionally, the use of HNK did not show any potential for abuse, thereby suggesting that the metabolite causes antidepressant effects without any side effect. One anomaly observed by the researchers was that mice are likely to sway toward ketamine than to HNK.

Immediate recovery from depression not far away

The above findings may hold the key for approximately 20 percent of the world’s population that is reported to have experienced a severe depressive disorder at one point in time in their life. After determining the safety and efficacy of HNK in treating depression, it can be instituted as a treatment measure.

If you or your loved one is experiencing the symptoms of depression, contact the Texas Depression Treatment Help to access the best depression treatment in Texas that specializes in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 or chat online to know more about depression treatment centers in Texas.