Hope is the greatest drug

Treatment of depression The drug ketamine in a nasal spray

The American writer David Foster Wallace, who at some point chose to commit suicide, once described his severe depression as follows: "As if every cell were so bad that it wanted to throw up. When a person with physical pain finds it difficult to turn his attention to anything other than pain , a clinically depressed person cannot perceive another or anything else as independent of the universal pain. Everything is part of the problem and there is no solution. For the person affected it is a one-man hell. "

Narcotic in human and veterinary medicine

Had the great author been rescued from this hell, his depression might have been treated with ketamine today. The narcotic is primarily used in human and veterinary medicine. Because of its dissociative effect, it is also abused as an intoxicating drug. Drug users describe the effects of ketamine as follows: As if the body were made of rubber and reality disappears. And that should help against depression?

Hope for the hopeless

Drew Ramsey, professor of psychiatry in New York, gives the hopeless high hopes nonetheless: "This is the greatest change that has been seen in psychiatry in 50 years in the use of drugs that affect the brain." One reads superlatives like these over and over again about ketamine: "The substance that brightens the dark", "The blessing of drugs", "Utopia for the salvation of the soul".

Warning of superlatives

But is the jubilation appropriate? Professor Malek Bajbouj from the Berlin Charité Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy dampens the euphoria: "I'm a bit more cautious about that. I wouldn't handle such superlatives. It's certainly a big change that has been taking place over the past ten years There hasn't been such a change in the treatment of depression. But that it's the biggest in 50 years, I'd disagree. "

I wouldn't handle such superlatives.

Prof. Malek BajboujCharité

Conventional antidepressants that have been used for around 50 years have the problem that they take weeks, if at all, to work. In contrast to ketamine, which supposedly works after minutes and even makes suicidal thoughts disappear.

Dangers of abuse

The spray is still not a breakthrough for the majority of the desperate. The head of the German Depression Aid, Professor Ulrich Hegerl, also sees it this way: "Whether this will actually become an option for a larger proportion of those suffering from depression is still open. In Germany it is not [ketamine, ed.] approved, simply because a lot of information is still missing. And a big problem is of course the risk of abuse. And that's why it is only approved in the USA that it is given to patients in certain centers - as a nasal spray. And then the patients have to two hours After that, stay under observation because this remedy also has a whole range of other side effects. For example, nausea or the feeling that you are standing next to yourself. Psychosis-like images can also appear at short notice. "

300 million depressed people worldwide

Even near-death experiences should be able to occur. In addition, drug experts certify that ketamine has a high potential for dependence, from which the descendant esketamine should not be free. It is used in the new product Spravato, which was brought to the US market by the pharmaceutical company Johnson & Johnson. And the demand could soon become huge. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 300 million people worldwide suffer from depression. Experts believe that with Spravato billions can be made.