Ketamine May Help With Overeating Linked To Depression

First Posted: Dec 21, 2015 06:31 PM EST

Researchers at Yale University discovered that ketamine--a type of anesthetic typically used before a medical or dental procedure--may help in treating chronic overeating tied to depression and chronic disease.

"The effects of a high-fat diet overlap with those of chronic stress and could also be a contributing factor in depression as well as metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes," Ronald Duman, a professor of psychiatry and neurobiology at Yale, said in a news release.

Previous studies have shown that ketamine, also known as "Special K" and abused a a recreational drug, can help to reduce symptoms of chronic depression in those who are resistant to typical antidepressant drugs. However, subsequent research reveales that ketamine activates the mTORC pathway that regulates the synthesis of proteins involved in creation of synaptic connections found in the brain damaged by both stress and depression. Furthermore, the pathway is involved in cellular responses to energy and metabolism that involve metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes that increase the risk of depression. 

During the study, researchers examined the connections between how diet influenced behavior in rats fed six times the normal amount of fat. Findings revealed that following four months of the diet, pathways involved with synaptic plasticity and metabolism were disrupted and the rats showed signs of both depression and anxiety.

Fortunately, the researchers found that just a single low dose of ketamine reversed symptoms very quickly--even reversing the disruption of mTORC signaling pathways. 

However, more research regarding the effects of ketamine on metabolsim will be needed. 

The study is published in the journal Neuropsychopharmacology.

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