IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


18th December, 2023 Health


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Context: In recent years, ketamine has become a subject of widespread debate for its increased use in treating depression and serious mental health issues. While some experts and patients lauded it as lifesaving, others criticized it as addictive.

About Ketamine

  • Ketamine is a dissociative anaesthetic hallucinogen that has been used as an anaesthetic for animals since the 1960s and was later approved for human use by the US Food and Drug Administration.
  • It is known for creating a feeling of detachment from pain and the environment. In recent years, ketamine has gained attention for its potential therapeutic effects in treating depression and other serious mental health issues, especially in cases where traditional therapies have not been effective.

Methods of Consumption

  • Patients with mental health issues typically take ketamine through an IV, nasal spray, or tablet once or twice a week for a specified treatment period.
  • For recreational purposes, ketamine is often snorted as a white crystalline powder. It can also be injected or smoked.

Effects of Ketamine

  • Some patients undergoing ketamine treatment report positive experiences, describing it as a "reset button for the brain." During treatment sessions, individuals may have pleasant visualizations and a sense of detachment, leading to a reduction in the perceived weight of daily problems.
  • Ketamine affects brain receptors that traditional antidepressants do not target, leading to a psychedelic-like experience. This aspect is considered by many to be integral to the drug's therapeutic effect.

Safety Considerations

  • When used for medicinal purposes and in the right doses, some doctors argue that ketamine can be safe and effective in treating mental illnesses.
  • There are concerns about potential addiction and health risks, especially when taken chronically in high doses. Chronic use may lead to severe bladder damage, and there are indications that abuse could result in cognitive impairment.
  • There is limited research on prolonged ketamine treatment and its safety. Additionally, there is a lack of literature on addiction and abuse among medical users.


  • The safety and efficacy of ketamine, especially in non-medical settings, remain topics of ongoing research and debate. When used under medical supervision, ketamine can be a valuable tool for anaesthesia and potentially for certain mental health conditions, but its recreational use poses significant health risks.


Q. What recent developments have made 'ketamine' a recurring topic in news headlines?

A) Its approval as an over-the-counter painkiller

B) Its role in controversial medical experiments

C) Its potential as a treatment for mental health conditions

D) Its inclusion in recreational marijuana products

Answer: C

Explanation: 'Ketamine' has been frequently featured in the news due to ongoing discussions about its potential for treating mental health conditions like depression, especially in treatment-resistant cases.