Source: Jon Hamilton, NPR
For six years now, life has been really good for James. He has a great job as the creative director of an advertising firm in New York City. He enjoys spending time with his wife and kids.
And it has all been possible, he says, because for the past six years he has been taking a drug called ketamine.
Before ketamine, James was unable to work or focus his thoughts. His mind was filled with violent images. And his mood could go from ebullient to dark in a matter of minutes.
Ketamine “helped me get my life back,” says James, who asked that we not use his last name to protect his career.
Ketamine was developed as a human and animal anesthetic in the 1960s. And almost from the time it reached the market it has also been used as a mind-bending party drug.
But ketamine’s story took a surprising turn in 2006, when researchers at the National Institutes of Health showed that an intravenous dose could relieve severe depression in a matter of hours. Since then, doctors have prescribed ketamine “off label” to thousands of depressed patients who don’t respond to other drugs.