Party drug ketamine and Botox – used cosmetically to treat wrinkles – may help alleviate the symptoms of depression, scientists claim. Researchers from the University of California, San Diego in the US looked at a database containing over eight million patient records for depression symptoms in patients taking ketamine for pain. The team focused on patients in the database who received ketamine, narrowing their study population down to about 41,000. They applied a mathematical algorithm to look for statistically significant differences in reported depression symptoms for each patient.
Researchers found that the incidence of depression symptoms in patients who took ketamine in addition to other pain therapeutics dropped by 50 per cent compared to the patients who took any other drug or drug combination for pain.Patients who took ketamine less frequently reported pain and opioid-associated side effects, such as constipation, as compared to patients who received other pain medications, researchers said.
“It is possible that another factor common to patients taking ketamine was driving the anti-depressant effect, such as the fact that ketamine also relieves pain,” said Ruben Abagyan professor at University of California San Diego. “That is why they compared ketamine patients with patients taking other pain medications. That control group eliminated the possibility that people who take ketamine have less depression because they have less pain,” Abagyan said. Researchers also found three other drugs with previously under-appreciated antidepressant effects emerge from this analysis. These are Botox, used cosmetically to treat wrinkles and medically to treat migraines and other disorders, diclofenac, a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), and minocycline, an antibiotic.