I read something crazy this weekend. Doctors have made an incredible discovery - apparently Special K cures depression! No not the Kelloggs cereal. Special K is a nickname for Ketamine, the general anesthetic and recreational hallucinogenic common on the drug scene.
The researchers at the Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas have discovered that Ketamine produces rapid relief for severely depressed patients. Well yes I bet it does. Ketamine is an anesthetic - its designed to numb the body and mind. Ketamine users describe the experience 'as if the mind and body have been separated' - does this sound like a cure for depression? Detaching from reality? What happens when the drug wears off? Back to square one. I understand that for someone on suicide-watch Ketamine could be a potential life saver. But what really worries me is if Ketamine becomes a regular 'treatment' for depression. And this could happen. Researchers said that if the initial clinical trial is successful, they will begin to test long-term effects, and if all studies yield successful results, it will be approved for use.
If researchers would like to know the long term effects of Ketamine use, all they need to do is to look at the users on the recreational drug scene. Since Special K became popular there has been a sharp increase in young adults suffering from 'Ketamine Bladder Syndrome'. Ketamine causes the bladder to shrink and it permanently damages the kidneys and ureter. I have read stories of 20 year olds having their entire bladders removed from Ketamine abuse. So this Ketamine cure for depression involves bladder rot. Nice.
What I struggle to understand is why medical researchers are looking for solutions to depression in this way. The question is not 'how do we stop depression?' but rather 'why is there depression?' In my clinic I never focus on the symptom but always look to understand where symptoms are coming from. What does the individual needs nutritionally, chemically, structurally and emotionally. Depression can be a symptom of nutritional, vitamin or mineral deficiency, a chemical or hormone imbalance or a repressed emotional or traumatic experience that an individual struggles to deal with. This is what needs addressing not a hallucinogenic drug that numbs their reality.
We have become a nation of pill poppers. When a complaint arises we take a pill. This pill causes a side effect. Which requires another pill. Which causes another side effect. Which requires another pill. Treating a symptom with a drug in this way is like taking out the warning light in your car, it is simply not addressing the underlying problem. Ketamine is not the solution to depression. Understanding and addressing the causes of depression is. And that is the cure we are really looking for.