Humans can sometimes experience periods of dissociation– or feeling disconnected from themselves and the world around them.
Despite these feelings being linked to various psychiatric conditions, though, dissociative states can also be prompted following the consumption of both legal and illicit drugs.
And one of the most notable drugs tied to inducing dissociation is ketamine. Ketamine is an anesthetic that is commonly used to medically sedate patients or reduce pain following medical operations.
But, in recent years, countless researchers have also turned to the drug for another application– ketamine’s potential as a treatment option for some forms of depression.
While numerous scientific studies have analyzed ketamine’s therapeutic benefits, not much is known about the neuronal and cellular mechanisms at play which produces the dissociative states.
So, researchers from the University of Pennsylvania recently set out to gain a further understanding of the drug’s processes in a new study.
“As anesthesiologists, we routinely use ketamine for its reliable anesthetizing properties during surgeries. These patients often experience hallucinations, such as a sense of being outside of one’s own body, when they awaken from anesthesia,” explained Joseph Cichon, one of the study’s researchers.
“And from the growing body of work by psychiatrists on ketamine, we know that lower ketamine doses have also been successfully used to treat depression and other related psychiatric conditions.”
In fact, ketamine has even been found to leave lasting therapeutic effects on patients with depression for up to two weeks– even though the drug will only remain within a patient’s system for just one hour following injection.
Sign up for Chip Chick’s newsletter and get stories like this delivered straight to your inbox.