Depression Tied to Overeating can be Reduced by Ketamine, Study Reveals

  • comments
  • print
  • email
Dec 23, 2015 08:57 AM EST

Previous research has studied chronic overeating and its connections to depression and anxiety. It has found that the two problems are linked. Now, a new Yale study, which published in the journal Neuropharmacology, has explained why that happens. The researchers have suggested a possible solution in the process of studying.

The researchers found that the anesthetic ketamine, which is widely known as a recreational drug, is capable of reversing depression-like symptoms in rats that are given a high-fat diet in the same way that it fights depression and chronic stress-induced synaptic damage in people.

They also found that ketamine, also known as “Special K,” can bring quick and dramatic reductions to the symptoms of chronic depression in patients when other antidepressant drugs do not work.

“The effects of a high-fat diet overlap with those of chronic stress and could also be a contributing factor in depression as well as metabolic disorders such as Type 2 diabetes,” Ronald Duman, the Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry, professor of neurobiology and senior author of the study, said in a press release.

The United Press International reported that the study decided to study overeating because, aside from findings that reveal a high-fat intake is a cause of anxiety and anhedonic (depressive) behaviors, the drug ketamine activates the mTORC pathway.

This pathway regulates proteins involved in the creation of synaptic connections in the brain that stress and depression damages. The mTORC pathway is also involved in responses to energy and metabolism.

People with with metabolic disorders, such as type 2 diabetes, are at a higher risk for depression. As such, the researchers decided to look into overeating and explored if diet might influence the behavior of rats given a high-fat diet that contained six times the normal amount of fat.

The researchers gave the rats the high-fat diet for four months. After the feeding period, they found that the mice exhibited symptoms normally found in depression. It was also known that the pathways involved with both metabolism and synaptic plasticity were damaged.

After administering ketamine, they found that a small dose of the drug is capable of reversing the symptoms quickly, as well as reversing the disruption of mTORC pathways.

Despite the findings, Duman cautioned that the effects of ketamine on metabolism still needs more research. He added that more clinical trials are also needed to determine the proper dosage and use of the drug against depression.

Join the Conversation
Real Time Analytics