Experimental depression drugs—including the use of ketamine, LSD, and propofol—are increasingly in the media. This is happening because sometimes depression is unreachable by the usual antidepressant medications and therapies.
The nasal spray esketamine, derived from ketamine, is one of the most innovative new depression treatments. Just recently approved by the FDA, this is what Psycom wrote in January: “Although it’s been abused in the past as a ‘recreational drug’ because of its hallucinogenic and tranquilizing effects (known on the street as ‘Special K’), today ketamine is drawing a lot of positive attention because it is being used ‘off-label’ to treat treatment-resistant depression—and patients are happy with the results.”
Two other unusual, indeed experimental, drugs have been written about in recent memoirs. Details below.
I. A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life (2017) by Ayelet Waldman
In an “underground” sort of venture, respected writer Ayelet Waldman tried microdoses of LSD for her intractable mood disorder. An excerpt from the publisher’s book description: “As Waldman charts her experience over the course of a month, during which she achieved a newfound feeling of serenity, she also explores the history and mythology of LSD, the cutting-edge research into the drug, and the byzantine policies that control it. Drawing on her experience as a federal public defender, and as the mother of teenagers, and her research into the therapeutic value of psychedelics, Waldman has produced a book that is candid, revealing and completely enthralling.”
“Whatever her foibles or stylistic lapses, she makes a persuasive case for the therapeutic use of psychedelics” (Jennifer Senior, New York Times).
II. The Valedictorian of Being Dead: The True Story of Dying Ten Times to Live (April 2019) by Heather B. Armstrong
Another bestselling author, Heather B. Armstrong, also found herself unable to find relief from depression. “She had never felt so discouraged by the thought of waking up in the morning, and it threatened to destroy her life. So, for the sake of herself and her family, Heather decided to risk it all by participating in an experimental clinical trial involving a chemically induced coma approximating brain death.”
More from the publisher of this brand new title: “Now, for the first time, Heather recalls the torturous eighteen months of suicidal depression she endured and the month-long experimental study in which doctors used propofol anesthesia to quiet all brain activity for a full fifteen minutes before bringing her back from a flatline. Ten times. The experience wasn’t easy. Not for Heather or her family. But a switch was flipped, and Heather hasn’t experienced a single moment of suicidal depression since.”