How ketamine works so fast for depression

And what the finding means for the efficacy of antidepressants

While using ketamine off-label for depression is still being investigated in Australia, US researchers have been working away to figure out how the drug acts so fast and lasts so long

Now researchers say they can describe the molecular mechanisms behind the controversial drug’s ability to minimise depression and keep it at bay. 

In a paper published in Molecular Psychiatry, US researchers led by Mark Rasenick, professor of physiology and psychiatry at the University of Illinois, describe how ketamine acts.

To start with, they explain that SSRIs work in the brain by moving G proteins off "lipid rafts" on the cell membrane, where the G molecules are held inactive.

People with depression tend to have a greater proportion of their G proteins packed into these membrane patches, they say.

The team's research on SSRIs shows the drugs work by accumulating in the