31/01/2012 16:28 GMT | Updated 07/02/2012 16:34 GMT

Ketamine Could Offer 'Instant Remedy' For Depression

Ketamine, a powerful anaesthetic drug that is used as a horse tranquiliser and is also sold illegally among clubbers as a recreational drug, may be able to offer instant relief to people suffering from depression.

The class C drug is currently being tested on patients with severe depression at the Neuro Psychiatric Center of Ben Taub General Hospital in Houston, Texas.

Ketamine reduces sensations in the body, giving those who take it a feeling of detachment from their mind and body. It also has hallucinogenic properties, making it popular among clubbers.

Researchers are hopeful that the drug could offer an almost instant anti-depressant effect.

As the anti-depressants currently available on the market take a few weeks to take effect, researchers hope Ketamine could offer a solution to bridge the gap when patients are at their most vulnerable, it was reported in the Daily Mail.

The trial participants were divided into two groups. One is taking an infusion of ketamine while a control group has been administered with another form of sedative to compare the results.

One trial patient, mother-of-three Heather Merrill, who believes she has been taking the ketamine, told National Public Radio in the US how she felt 24 hours after her treatment:

“It was almost immediate, the sense of calmness and relaxation. No more fogginess. No more heaviness. I feel like I'm a clean slate right now. I want to go home and see friends or, you know, go to the grocery store and cook the family dinner.”

If the current trial, which tests the short-term effects of ketamine, is successful, researchers will run a second study to look at the drug’s long-term effects in treating depression.