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Fast Antidepressant

October 26, 2010

Researchers have discovered how a fast-acting antidepressant works so quickly.


Stopping depression in its tracks. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Most antidepressant drugs take weeks or months to kick in. But a drug called ketamine temporarily relieves the symptoms of major depression in just a few hours. Now, scientists think they know why. Ron Duman of Yale University School of Medicine and his colleagues found that in rodents, a single dose of ketamine rapidly increased the number of connections between neurons in the pre-frontal cortex of the brain.

RON DUMAN (Yale University School of Medicine):
That’s known to be involved in depression and treatment response. This is really adramatic finding that a drug can increase the connections between neurons within a relatively short timeframe.

Ketamine can’t be used long-term because it can cause psychotic effects and there’s a potential for abuse. But understanding how it works could lead to the development of more effective antidepressant drugs. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.