The drug ketamine, known among recreational drug users as "special K," helped relieve depression in patients who did not respond to other medications, Yale University scientists found.
According to a longterm study, published in the journal Science, ketamine helped to regenerate synapses — the spaces between brain cells (neurons) — damaged by depression and stress.
And while standard antidepressants took weeks or months to fully take effect, small doses of ketamine — an FDA-approved anesthetic — could offer near-immediate therapeutic relief.
Or, as Gizmodo put it:
Science just proved what zillions kids in the K hole have known for decades: Ketamine is a very effective way to make yourself feel good.
The researchers, from Yale and the National Institute of Mental Health, found that ketamine also worked a lot quicker than common antidepressants, giving patients immediate relief from symptoms — during the critical period in which depressed patients may be a threat to themselves or others.
More from GlobalPost: The globalization of "Special K"
The Verge pointed out the potential downside: that the improved symptoms only last up to 10 days; and that there is potential for misuse.
However, NPR quoted Ron Duman, a psychiatrist and neurobiologist at Yale, as saying:
"It's exciting. The hope is that this new information about ketamine is really going to provide a whole array of new targets that can be developed that ultimately provide a much better way of treating depression."