id="1-2">Putting Out Pain
Ketamine got its start as an anesthesia medicine in the 1960s. It was used on the battlefields of the Vietnam War.
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At lower doses, it can help ease pain. Ketamine helps sedatives work and may help people need fewer addictive painkillers, like morphine after surgery or while caring for burns.
When misused, ketamine can change your sense of sight and sound. You can have hallucinations and feel out of touch with your surroundings — and even from yourself. It can make it hard to speak or move, and it’s been abused as a date-rape drug.
“Outside of the clinic, ketamine can cause tragedies, but in the right hands, it is a miracle,” says John Abenstein, MD, president of the American Society of Anesthesiologists.
id="1-3">New Life as an Antidepressant?
Turning around severe depression may not literally be a miracle. But if it happens to you, it can feel like one.
Researchers are studying whether ketamine can help treat severe depression, such as in people who have tried other treatments or who are in the hospital and possibly suicidal.
The FDA hasn’t approved it for that use. But some psychiatrists are trying ketamine experimentally with their patients who have this type of depression, says John Krystal, MD, chief of psychiatry at Yale-New Haven Hospital.