Monday, March 08, 2010
Scopolamine might lift depression quicker
Conventional antidepressant treatment usually takes between three and four weeks to become effective so finding quicker-working drugs is of great interest both to clinicians and drug companies. The horse-anaesthetic and recreational drug ketamine has been found to lift mood quickly but researchers at the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. believe that they have found another drug that can act just as fast. Scopolamine temporarily blocks the muscarinic cholinergic receptor and was tested in a double-blind trial in which neither the researchers nor the participants knew whether those involved in the study were taking scopolamine or a placebo. Scopolamine was found to reduce symptoms of depression within three days and half of the participants experienced full symptom remission by the end of the treatment period. The effects of the scopolamine lasted for two weeks after people stopped taking it but there will need to be many more trials - including studies of scopolamine's side effects - before doctors can add scopolamine to their prescription pads as a new treatment for depression.