Sniffing Serotonin

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In an age where mental illness is on the rise, with the new generation of teenagers taking the brunt of it, scientists have been searching for a cure for those who are seemingly resistant to the available medications. In recent developments, a new treatment has been introduced that is taking the media by storm. In the form of a nasal spray, the drug stems from an old anesthetic known as ketamine. It allegedly balances out the chemicals in the brain that cause depression much quicker than previous antidepressants. Additionally, it is intended to aid those with depression whose symptoms have not been alleviated by any other form of treatment, be it medicine or therapy.


There are high hopes for the new drug, known as esketamine, considering that it is entirely unique to the other routes of medication. Doctor Erick Turner, professor of psychiatry and former F.D.A. reviewer, was excited at the prospect of something new: “Thank goodness we now have something with a different mechanism of action than previous antidepressants.” However, on the other hand, there is skepticism among doctors about the drug since it hardly outperformed the placebo treatment in trials. It is noteworthy, Janssen Pharmaceutical company claimed, that patients on esketamine only had a 25% relapse rate where those on the placebo had a 45% rate.


Esketamine does, of course, carry a danger to it. Similar to its cousin, the drug can trigger psychosis in individuals who have a high risk towards them. Even so, the development of an innovative medicine in the world of mental health is a huge leap. With effects that can allegedly become noticeable within hours to days, it would quite definitely be a lifesaver if as beneficial as claimed. In relation to its impact on halting suicidal thinking, a drug like esketamine being capable of minimizing the time between the beginning of treatment and results in suicidal people could help to prevent deaths that occur within that waiting period.


If the side effects of esketamine are highly controlled and the early reports of its effectiveness on treating mental illness are accurate, the release of the drug with an F.D.A. approved label could be revolutionary for those suffering who have had little to no help using currently available treatments. Although the road to fully measuring the breadth of esketamine is still rocky, the possibility of a new wave of remedies for mental illness is more than significant.