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What is the most promising recent development to treat depression?

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Summary:

The biggest discovery for the treatment of depression is ketamine, a glutamate NMDA receptor antagonist that produces rapid (within hours) antidepressant actions in patients who have failed to respond to conventional antidepressants (i.e., are considered treatment- resistant).

Answer:

The biggest discovery for the treatment of depression is ketamine, a glutamate NMDA receptor antagonist that produces rapid (within hours) antidepressant actions in patients who have failed to respond to conventional antidepressants (i.e., are considered treatment- resistant). The ability of ketamine to produce a rapid and efficacious antidepressant response by a completely different mechanism represents the most important finding in the depression field in over 50 years. Studies aimed at characterizing the mechanisms by which ketamine works rapidly and effectively could lead to novel targets and agents that are safer and more long-lasting, and could revolutionize the treatment of depression. Numerous NARSAD Grants have supported this work. Recent research demonstrating that ketamine increases synaptic connections in brain regions that control mood and emotion also raises the possibility that behavioral therapies, as well as pharmacological agents, could reinforce and sustain these new connections and the antidepressant response to ketamine.
(Source: Dr. Ronald Duman, Brain & Behavior Research Foundation Scientific Council)

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