Ketamine for Depression; LSD for PTSD

On several occasions over the last few months, followers of my blog and previous seminar attendees have inquired about research studies they’ve come across regarding the use of Ketamine for the treatment of resistant Major Depressive Disorder and LSD for the management of traumatic nightmares linked to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Here’s a very brief review of Ketamine and LSD. Ketamine is a dissociative anesthetic. This means it possesses possible hallucinogenic properties. LSD is a pure hallucinogen and has no clinical therapeutic value whatsoever. Ketamine is a Schedule III controlled substance; LSD is a Schedule I substance.

Here’s how I answer questions related to random research which appears in select literature here and there: People are paid to research practically anything, particularly in the name of science and it matters not whether the study has any credible legs or not. So here’s the bottom line: it takes a mountain of reliable and valid evidence to move a project forward into the mainstream.

Might Ketamine and LSD be the next major breakthroughs for treatment-resistant depression and core PTSD symptoms respectively? Put me in the very, very doubtful category. Both are controlled substances; LSD is not sanctioned for use under any circumstances in the United States unless its use is tightly controlled via vigorous Federal scrutiny. And other questions abound? If these agents did prove to be efficacious, would their scheduled classifications be changed? Who would get it? How would usage be regulated? Regulations on the use of these agents would be bound with more red tape than the records of American Civil War veterans.

It’s so easy to get caught up in exciting research that is positively demonstrable in some way. But truthfully, so many projects never get past Phase I and merely keep some people employed.

Joseph Wegmann, R.Ph., LCSW is a licensed clinical pharmacist and a clinical social worker with more than thirty years of experience in the field of psychopharmacology. His diverse professional background in psychopharmacology and counseling affords him a unique perspective on medication management issues. In addition to consulting with numerous psychiatric facilities, he has presented psychopharmacology seminars to thousands of clinicians in 46 states.

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