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Time magazine, in its August 7, 2017 issue, promotes ketamine as a “Surprising new drug (that) may change (depression).” Noting that 16 million Americans have clinical depression, and 30% of people don’t respond to current therapies, the article offers ketamine as a potential panacea. According to one psychiatric researcher, “I still think it’s the most exciting treatment to come in mood disorders, probably of the last 50 years.”

Ketamine is not a new drug, just newly adopted for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. Actually it is an anesthetic agent, used to put people under for surgery. Ketamine is also addicting and causes cognitive impairment with reductions in verbal abilities, short-term memory, and executive function.

Apparently people on ketamine just forget the reasons for their depression, perhaps because their brains have been damaged. Drugs that change emotions by altering cognition and memory are well known. Many in their time, and in our time, have been touted as wonderful treatments. They include LSD, cocaine, marijuana, amphetamines, and heroin. They do not cure depression. They sometimes camouflage it under an array of altered perceptions. In effect, all of these drugs condemn people to an unaware existence. True happiness, to me, is a state of optimal awareness.

-Allan Sosin MD

 

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