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Monday, January 4, 2016

Vaccine For Depression?

A Vaccine for Depression?

Ketamine’s remarkable effect bolsters a new theory of mental illness.

Taylor Beck | December 17, 2015

One sunny day this fall, I caught a glimpse of the new psychiatry. At a mental hospital near Yale University, a depressed patient was being injected with ketamine. For 40 minutes, the drug flowed into her arm, bound for cells in her brain. If it acts as expected, ketamine will become the first drug to quickly stop suicidal drive, with the potential to save many lives. Other studies of ketamine are evaluating its effect as a vaccination against depression and post-traumatic stress. Between them, the goal is nothing less than to redefine our understanding of mental illness itself.

Mental hospitals don’t usually see patients until they break: a brain shaped by vulnerable genes, wrecked by the stress of loss or trauma. This isn’t how it works with other sicknesses: heart disease, cancer, AIDS. Detected early, these conditions can often be managed. Crises averted.

If [Gerard] Sanacora [the psychiatry professor running the ketamine trial at Yale] and like-minded researchers are right, we may be on the cusp of a sea change that allows for a similar approach to mental health. The new approaches may prevent mental illness before it hits, by delivering a vaccination for the mind.

<more at; related links: (Ketamine: The Future of Depression Treatment? September 23, 2014) and (Rapid Antidepressant Effects of Ketamine in Major Depression. Verified August 2015. The following note appears on this article: "This study is currently recruiting participants.")>

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