Elon Musk revealed that he takes ketamine to manage depression

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In a recent interview, Elon Musk revealed that he takes ketamine to help improve his mental health and treat symptoms of depression. STR/NurPhoto via Getty Images
  • In a recent interview, Elon Musk revealed that he has a prescription for ketamine to treat depression.
  • Ketamine is a powerful anesthetic that research indicates may help treat depression, but it is not currently FDA-approved for this or any other psychiatric indication.
  • Experts told Healthline that Musk’s interview will raise the profile of the drug, which could lead to more research into the treatment, but also more misuse.

Elon Musk revealed that he takes ketamine for depression in a recent interview with former CNN anchor Don Lemon.

The tech mogul told Lemon that he hoped that by talking about the drug, he could help other people.

While generally tight-lipped about specifics, Musk had this to say about his ketamine use in the interview:

There are times when I have a kind of negative chemical state in my brain, like depression, I guess depression is not related to any negative news. Ketamine is useful in bringing one out of a negative mood.

Experts contacted by Healthline agreed that Musk’s disclosure would certainly help raise the drug’s profile and reputation as a treatment for depression.

However, they also noted reservations that it could lead to misuse outside of appropriate medical and psychiatric settings.

Ketamine hydrochloride is an FDA-approved anesthetic that was developed about fifty years ago and is still used today.

It is a Schedule III non-narcotic substance, according to the Drug Enforcement Agency, and currently has accepted medical uses.

But ketamine also has a reputation as an illicit party drug known to induce hallucinations and a relaxed, disconnected feeling.

In the past twenty years, researchers have increasingly investigated ketamine for its potential use in a wide variety of mental health conditions, including:

Ketamine infusion therapy or intravenous ketamine is the most widely studied form of ketamine therapy for psychiatric disorders. Typically, a patient will receive one dose of the drug while under observation at a clinic and then receive several maintenance doses over the following months.

There is no set dosage or infusion schedule; Protocols may vary from clinic to clinic and patient to patient.

Simultaneously, researchers also began looking for similar drug formulations. In 2019, the Spravato (esketamine) approved by the Food and Drug Administration for treatment-resistant depression. However, esketamine is not ketamine and is administered via a nasal spray rather than intravenously.

Among these conditions, research indicates that the strongest evidence for ketamine therapy is treatment-resistant depression, according to an expert review in The American Journal of Psychiatry from 2021.

Despite growing evidence, ketamine is not currently FDA-approved for any psychiatric disorder, but it can be prescribed by a licensed physician.

Ketamine infusion therapy or IV ketamine is not FDA approved. In fact, only in the last two decades has there been greater attention from the public as well as from psychiatric researchers and clinicians to using it in a clinical setting, Dr. Jeffrey Zabinski, MD, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Columbia Medical University. the center told Healthline.

Columbia University Medical Center offers ketamine infusion therapy as part of its psychiatric services.

Referring to Musks interview, Zabinski said: There is a positive opportunity for education when something like this comes up. The flip side is that ketamine is absolutely not right for everyone. So you need to make sure you work with a psychiatrist or other mental health professional to make sure that if there are other safer options, they are explored before going to ketamine.

Asked by Lemon if he ever abuses the drug, Musk replied, I don’t think so. If you use too much ketamine, you can’t really do work, and I have a lot of work.

He went on to explain his use of ketamine and said he only uses a small amount once every two weeks.

Dr. Boris Heifets, MD, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine at Stanford Medicine, also told Healthline that the interview with Musks is likely to help destigmatize mental health. However, he was more blunt about the downsides:

Someone might listen to the interview and say, Hey, I’m depressed, and it seems like this guy, who’s very high functioning, says it’s okay, then maybe it’s going to be good for me. Maybe I don’t need a doctor to tell me what it is because I don’t trust the medical establishment. I’m just going to get some ketamine. And that’s a problem. I feel very comfortable saying that I care a lot.

Ketamine has a strong safety profile and has been used professionally in medical settings for decades. However, there are serious concerns about the dangers posed when the drug is used recreationally.

There are also questions about the long-term safety of ketamine infusion therapy for depression.

Ketamine is exceptionally safe when given once. We have fifty years of experience with ketamine given to millions of people in operating rooms around the world. But we also know that ketamine is a drug of abuse, Heifets said.

Even for those receiving ketamine, more safety research is needed.

There’s a lot we don’t know about their risk profile that we should address before making determinations, he said.

As a potential drug of abuse, ketamine is complicated. Although there is potential for misuse, research has also found that ketamine may play a role in treatment of substance disorders.

Ketamine has been historically abused in recent decades. So it’s something we have to pay special attention to when patients have a history of substance use disorders. The tricky thing is that there are some studies that show that sometimes high doses of ketamine can be helpful for substance use disorders.

Ketamine has the potential for both short- and long-term health risks. Immediately after taking the medicine, people may experience:

  • hallucinations
  • feeling drunk
  • sedation
  • disorientation
  • Nausea

Ketamine overdose can cause unconsciousness and dangerously slowed breathing.

Long-term use of ketamine can lead to:

  • Urinary and bladder problems
  • Abuse and misuse
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Psychiatric events

Elon Musk recently talked about his prescription for ketamine to treat depression.

Ketamine is a powerful FDA-approved anesthetic that research indicates is also an effective therapy for treatment-resistant depression.

However, the drug is not FDA approved for any psychiatric disorder.

Experts say that while talking about Musk may be helpful in destigmatizing mental health, it may also lead to increased interest in the drug, which has the potential for misuse.

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Image Source : www.healthline.com

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