Originally published February 8, 2012 at 10:59 a.m., updated February 10, 2012 at 1:08 p.m.
Guest: Sidney Zisook, M.D., Department of Psychiatry, UCSD
Absent From Yourself
"The first thing that goes is happiness. You cannot gain pleasure from anything....But soon other emotions follow happiness into oblivion: sadness as you had known it, the sadness that seemed to have led you here; your sense of humor; your belief in and capacity for love. Your mind is leached until you seem dim-witted even to yourself....You lose the ability to trust anyone, to be touched, to grieve. Eventually, you are simply absent from yourself."
Andrew Solomon in "The Noonday Demon"
Last week NPR detailed a new drug, ketamine, that can relieve even suicidal depression almost instantly and works on patients who haven't responded to antidepressants like Prozac.
The current leading theories, he said, suggest depression is caused by a multitude of factors, including biological, psychological and societal. This means the ways doctors treat depression could change.
Zisook said ketamine, also a club drug called "Special K," is not an ideal drug for depression because it can be abused and causes hallucinations if its dosage is too high. But, he said, the drug's effectiveness is providing hope that future medications could be designed similarly.
"Somebody who can be severely depressed may be a different person within minutes," he said. "It doesn't last, even if the depression is totally eradicated, it may be for days to a week at most."