A recent report from The Wall Street Journal has revealed that billionaire and Twitter CEO Elon Musk uses ketamine to alleviate depression.
Ketamine started as a dissociative anesthetic in the 1970s before people discovered that it also reduced depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. It induces a “dissociative experience,” or trip that can involve feelings of euphoria, sensory or visual distortions, temporary unusual beliefs and thoughts, and feelings of unreality for about two hours.
Like some other psychedelics, ketamine has seen a surge in scientific and public interest in recent years due to its purported mental health benefits.
According to the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Elon Musk is one of the growing number of people who are microdosing psychedelics to combat a variety of mental health issues. WSJ says that accounts of ketamine use by the Neuralink and Tesla CEO come from people who have seen him use the psychedelic and others with “direct knowledge of his use.”
Musk apparently uses small doses of ketamine to combat depression and ramps up to higher doses that induce psychedelic-like experiences ahead of social events.
Although Musk didn’t respond to requests for a comment, he later tweeted that he believes ketamine is “occasionally a better option” for addressing depression compared to conventional antidepressants that are “zombifying people.” He claimed that “depression is over diagnosed’” in America and is often an issue of brain chemistry for some people.
Controlled studies have found that ketamine can deliver encouraging results against treatment-resistant depression. A recent paper published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” found that 55% of 403 patients reported “sustained improvement” in depression symptoms after ketamine treatment without any significant side effects.
The FDA has already approved the use of a nasal ketamine spray called Spravato for adults who are suffering from major depressive disorder, have suicidal thoughts or have failed to respond to antidepressants. Treatment typically involves taking antidepressants alongside the ketamine nasal spray at a doctor’s office under the care of a licensed and trained provider.
The two-hour long trip, or dissociative experience, is then followed by a talk therapy session to help the patient integrate any insights or realizations they may have made during the trip into their life.
Doctors do not recommend recreational ketamine use as it can cause side effects such as high blood pressure, unconsciousness, slowed breathing, kidney problems and kidney ulcers. Due to the risk of adverse side effects, Spravato is only available to approved patients through a restricted system.
Many companies such as Mind Medicine Inc. (NASDAQ: MNMD) (NEO: MMED) (DE: MMQ) are also conducting drug-development programs so that more approved psychedelics-based treatments can become available to the patients who need them.
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