What Ketamine Actually Does To Your Brain

By Brian Lemay 87 comments

Breaking news. The 10-day ordeal, 12 young
boys and their soccer coach found alive in a flooded cave in Thailand. Narrator: Remember when that happened? It was one of the most difficult rescue missions of all time, involving as many as 10,000 people, and now we know that
rescuers gave the boys a drug which helped the mission succeed. That drug was ketamine. Ketamine was first
synthesized in the 1960s as an anesthetic, a sedative. That’s why it was so useful
in the rescue mission. But ketamine actually has
a lot of different uses. In the ’80s, it became
a popular club drug, gaining nicknames like
Special K and Cat Valium, and more recently, in early 2019, a form of ketamine was approved by the FDA as an antidepressant. So how does a drug that’s so
multipurpose actually work? Ketamine is what scientists
call a dirty drug. That means it doesn’t just target one system in your brain, but dozens. It has a weak effect on opiate receptors in the dopamine system, which drugs like heroine
and cocaine target. But most importantly, ketamine manipulates a neurotransmitter called glutamate, earning it the attention of
psychiatrists nationwide. Glutamate is what many of
the neurons in your brain use to communicate with each other, and without it, well, your brain
would essentially shut down like a city grid without power. Now, at high doses, ketamine
seems to block glutamate. That’s why it’s such an
effective anesthetic. But in low doses, like what
you might find at a club or in a spray of the
FDA-approved drug esketamine, it actually ramps up glutamate production, and that comes with all
kinds of side effects. It can make you hallucinate
or feel as though you’re losing touch with reality. And it might also help build
new connections or synapses between neurons, electrifying
new parts of that city grid. Chadi Abdallah: When people
are stressed for a long time or when they suffer from
depression for a while, they start losing these connections, and when we give them ketamine 24 hours, they reverse. Now they look
like more a normal brain. So we believe that perhaps ketamine is working by regenerating
these connections that are needed for
normal brain functioning. Narrator: And that could make ketamine one of the best drugs out
there for treating depression. This isn’t how other antidepressants work. Medications like Prozac and
Zoloft take weeks if not months to kick in, and they regulate serotonin, another chemical in the brain, which scientists have
long tied to depression. These more traditional drugs
may work for some people, but not for everyone. In fact, as many as 4
million American adults have treatment-resistant depression. And for them, well, ketamine might be the only drug out there
that can provide relief. That’s according to Doctor Andre Atoian. He’s the founder of Ketamine Specialists, a clinic where he administers
ketamine to patients with mood disorders, pain, and addiction. Andre Atoian: Ketamine is
the agent that works when most others have failed. It is something that really
allows us to give patients a sort of new hope ’cause a
lot of people that I treat have basically already tried everything, and they’re in this situation where nothing’s really working, and they’re suffering, they’re miserable. Narrator: So it’s hard to
deny that ketamine’s effect on depression sounds promising, and, clearly, it’s a useful sedative. But here’s the thing… Nolan Williams: As far as
effect, it’s, you know, there’s still a lot we don’t know. Narrator: That’s Doctor Nolan Williams, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the Stanford University Medical Center. He says that because ketamine
manipulates so many different receptors in the brain, it’s been hard to nail down all of them. So it’s still unclear how it
might affect different patients both short- and long-term, and researchers still haven’t figured out how to preserve its benefits
as an antidepressant. Abdallah: The challenge is how to maintain these new connections. Is it to give ketamine repeatedly? We know that we cannot give it every day, that’s like substance of abuse, because then it will harm the brain. Narrator: So while FDA
approval is considered a victory for the millions of people with treatment-resistant depression, doctors still caution that
ketamine should only be used as a last resort.


Tom Smith

Aug 8, 2019, 12:20 am Reply

I don't know but I do know is that in the early 2000s some mofo sold us pills loaded with its and we was crawling around on all fours thinking we was dogs lol 😂


Aug 8, 2019, 12:35 am Reply

Didn’t hear the words “dissociative drug” used once in the report, when that is what ketamine is most known for. Veterinarians give it to horses they are castrating, so that they can stand while they are being cut, making the job easier on the vet, gravity helping them snip away everything they need to (if a horse was lying down, the testes could fall back into the body cavity, & the doctors may not be able to get all they need to. —I used to work with horse vets)

Teresa Dougherty

Aug 8, 2019, 2:31 am Reply

It's my understanding that Glutamate and Gaba are to balance each other out, to much Glutamate can be a reason for issues with anxiety. Gaba is a neurotransmitter that calms us/reduces anxiety.

Teresa Dougherty

Aug 8, 2019, 2:36 am Reply


Dario Delgado

Aug 8, 2019, 7:13 am Reply

Why even use a drug retards

Dario Delgado

Aug 8, 2019, 7:14 am Reply

Depression is a way of thinking ..change you way of seeing life ..the drugs are already inside of you

Cole McRae

Aug 8, 2019, 7:59 am Reply

Someonea touch my esket!!!

Marco M.

Aug 8, 2019, 10:10 am Reply

Yeahhh, let's talk about how it screws up ur bladder. If you like self inserting catherers up ur pee hole, this is the drug for u.

David Newmon

Aug 8, 2019, 12:34 pm Reply

But what did it do to the kids in the cave? Why were they given this drug?

Dun 4 Clothing

Aug 8, 2019, 9:03 pm Reply

Ar ar ar ar sponge bob me bob I sold the krusty crab to fuel my ketamine Addiction ar ar ar ar

Tony Williams

Aug 8, 2019, 6:09 pm Reply

They don't tell you that Ketamine is used alot on dogs and cats it's even used on baby's who have breathing issues because it's alot safer. Comparing ket to coke. Ketamine is usually pure or outer and less likely to be cut. Ketamine is produced by pharmaceutical companies coke is under ground. Ketamine has a high ld50 and isn't harmful to the heart/brain. Bladder issues are one with K.

Chaasad Bailey

Aug 8, 2019, 4:23 am Reply

Ketamine leased blunts hit harder than a truck and really help for depression

Eric Rosenfeld

Aug 8, 2019, 6:34 am Reply

I don't think increasing glutamate transmission would cause side effects like hallucinations. That should result from lack of proper brain function. People tend to start hallucinating when the brain is failing, not when neurotransmission is increased.

D Seeley

Aug 8, 2019, 7:38 am Reply

The government wants to kill us 😢

some ordinary guy who likes bashing Christians

Aug 8, 2019, 7:47 pm Reply

Mom can you buy me some ketamine

Christian Munoz

Aug 8, 2019, 8:11 pm Reply

Is this any different from what doctors are prescribing people already? Side effects seem to be a normal thing these days.

505 Booker 2049384

Aug 8, 2019, 6:22 am Reply

Hmm… Mixed with pot?…how do I get some?

Argent 2

Aug 8, 2019, 7:19 am Reply

Seems like all these drugs that are supposedly dangerous turn out all to have some kind of very useful purpose while alcohol which has almost to no useful effects other than killing bacteria is widely allowed and tobacoo also

An Alcoholic Clown

Aug 8, 2019, 5:34 pm Reply

That’s why I nerly in a nightclub every weekend 😁

Adam Mada

Aug 8, 2019, 8:49 pm Reply

Just don't take a K-hole too deep you will regret it. Anything over 2.5 points in 1 hit is too much.


Aug 8, 2019, 3:53 pm Reply

Been dealing with depression for a very long time, and most pills don't work or just stop working after a while.
Been looking at ketamine for a few years now, but the offices are usually around $400 a trip, and last I checked, eskatemine is like $2000 or so a use, which considering that ketamine is dirt cheap to produce, is just an insane price hike.
I'ts out of my reach, dunno what to do now, I've reached a point where every day I wake up, I get a pain in my chest, and the first thoughts that pop into my head are "you should kill yourself" or a variation of that.
This is why I'm hoping for free healthcare to become a thing, because I am just finding it difficult to keep going.
Sorry if this was long, not even sure why I felt the need to post, but there you go

Steven Amendola

Aug 8, 2019, 8:11 pm Reply

I have recreationally used ketamine since I was 18 now I'm 31 everyday. I have had my most enjoyable times in it. Even tried iv and Im use. Want to study someone lol


Aug 8, 2019, 1:37 pm Reply

Yoda: mmmmm interesting this is

Chris Oakes

Aug 8, 2019, 1:32 am Reply

Beneficial substances are illegal but alcohol an cigarettes are ok. Hmmm

Grin Beatz

Aug 8, 2019, 2:29 pm Reply


Luke Work

Aug 8, 2019, 2:59 pm Reply

This is all capitalist bullshit, natural herbs all the way

Jonatan Olsén

Aug 8, 2019, 5:45 am Reply

Ketamine is a really weird drug. You can hardly speak, walk or think, but somehow you become a great dancer..

SmileyD Crosby

Aug 8, 2019, 2:06 pm Reply

Is this something they can use in alzthimers and dementia?

gary gerold

Aug 8, 2019, 8:33 pm Reply

Mmmm ketamine addiction I have. – yoda


Aug 8, 2019, 9:02 pm Reply

Crack can take away depression


Aug 8, 2019, 9:47 pm Reply

Looks fun

Troll Account

Aug 8, 2019, 11:39 pm Reply

Only drug that had me faceplanting in some leftover puddles of beer on the middle of the dancefloor whilst thinking I was sincerely dancing and still had the same fun !!!

S Hall

Aug 8, 2019, 12:29 am Reply

Lol imagen if the people in the cave went down a K hole in the rescue


Aug 8, 2019, 2:13 am Reply

Yoda: Ketamine must I have

Señor Hilter

Aug 8, 2019, 2:16 am Reply

Hmmmmm must rob you for ketamine I must

Stephanie Taco

Aug 8, 2019, 12:51 pm Reply

Smoke a stenchy indica instead sad people

Purple Flamingo

Aug 8, 2019, 1:47 pm Reply

I have bipolar depression I like how my brain functions the only down part of having a mental disorder is that you can’t experiment with drugs. Any “drug” including alcohol hits me really really hard it’s like a trip I guess you could say I get more bang for my buck. I just really wish I could experience lcd or shrooms

John Doe

Aug 8, 2019, 8:27 am Reply

will ketamine work for ketamine addiction?

Elvis Sanchez

Aug 8, 2019, 7:28 pm Reply

I think some group therapy will fix me up through the week. =)
(no drugs)

will marshall

Aug 8, 2019, 8:04 am Reply

And where could a gentleman purchase such a thing?

will marshall

Aug 8, 2019, 8:05 am Reply

Hows it stack up against pyhilosiban

Andreas Bringemeier

Aug 8, 2019, 1:35 pm Reply

Who’s watching this while high on ket. Heh


Aug 8, 2019, 8:32 pm Reply


Mountain Whale

Aug 8, 2019, 5:15 pm Reply

0:45 Oooh so that's what eskeetit means… of-course, why am i even surprised ? 😀

Vevo Lyrics

Aug 8, 2019, 4:31 am Reply


D Joseph

Aug 8, 2019, 6:55 am Reply


Badbad Fishy

Aug 8, 2019, 9:42 am Reply

But yeah I used to get needle injections from a doc. Shits legit. Not bad for depression but for long term pain relief shits on point.

The Geekazoid

Aug 8, 2019, 10:38 am Reply

it's all fun and games until you fall into the "K Hole"….

Mr.Yanis _

Aug 8, 2019, 2:58 pm Reply

Ketamine , I need

firstname lastname

Aug 8, 2019, 11:47 pm Reply

Tried K.. hated it. I'll stick to yay 😬😬😜

Über Scrub

Aug 8, 2019, 10:02 am Reply


Long Live Christianity

Aug 8, 2019, 12:59 pm Reply

I need Ketamine in my life


Aug 8, 2019, 9:37 pm Reply

You said that prozac and zoloft regulate serotonin… That makes it sound like it decreases it. They really decrease the reuptake of serotonin so that they are more likely to attach to the post synaptic neuron.

Vivian Tristesse

Aug 8, 2019, 9:44 pm Reply

It works. I've been suicidally depressed my whole life. I got ketamine infusion therapy. The nightmares stopped immediately. I made friends. I'm a much happier person. Ketamine needs to be approved ASAP because I can't afford it even though it is the only thing that has ever helped with my depression. If insurance would pay for it, I would want an injection weekly until I stopped feeling like there was a mountain on my chest and that the world was bleak and awful.

Vivian Tristesse

Aug 8, 2019, 9:48 pm Reply

Dr. Nolan Williams should go screw himself. I would be totally lost without ketamine. More people should have access.


Aug 8, 2019, 11:43 pm Reply

Am I the only one who got nothing but bad trips/k holes and stopped taking it?

Myname Jeff

Aug 8, 2019, 2:33 am Reply




Aug 8, 2019, 11:06 pm Reply

I didnt know there was an episode of Charlie Chaplin involving cocaine lol

its JoaQUIM

Aug 8, 2019, 1:58 pm Reply

I don't even know what ketamine is.

Taylor Garrett

Aug 8, 2019, 3:25 pm Reply

You never explained how it was used to help with the rescue mission


Aug 8, 2019, 12:04 pm Reply

I kinda agree with this. Used to take alot of anti-depressant like xanax,e-pam. I was practically abusing it. When i stopped taking it, there was a period where I felt very low all the time and I could also feel that my brain was really "foggy", felt slow doing everything especially doing complex tasks. However after my friend intoduced me to ketamine and I just did it twice. I feel like my mood drastically improve in the following months and I could also feel like my thoughts were much clearer and I felt basically faster than before (didn't feel as dumb :/ )
It worked for me, but try it at your own risk because we never know what kind of side effects it has on you, especially in the long run

Chara Undertale

Aug 8, 2019, 1:07 pm Reply

Someone on roblox has the username
Kehtamineadiction. Wait hol up. How is that ok?

Donna Zed

Aug 8, 2019, 8:47 pm Reply

Serotonin is not only in the brain !!! Most of it is in our digestive system,
Guys eat well 🖤


Aug 8, 2019, 6:34 am Reply

So ketamine is good for you??

Mike McKay

Aug 8, 2019, 5:06 am Reply

I was Depressed for 30 years. And had migraines. Four ketamine infusions later, the depression and migraines are gone. Ketamine reconnects pathways in the brain. It works.


Aug 8, 2019, 9:00 am Reply

Lot's of fun but easy to overdose so take care. Overdose just knocks you out but it can mess with your breathing like apnoea.

Róbert Bendík

Aug 8, 2019, 4:49 pm Reply

make ketamine OTC like DXM is, and we depressed people dont need to drink anymore full bottles of nasty syrups.

Dan Michael

Aug 8, 2019, 11:59 pm Reply

What's the name of the background song at 1.18? Nice violins


Aug 8, 2019, 1:42 pm Reply

Hmmm bad things for ketamine i have done

Shane Maguire

Aug 8, 2019, 3:00 pm Reply

Taking 14 years .. wonderful drug 🙂 dont forget your shovel


Aug 8, 2019, 1:29 am Reply

I dislike the over prescription of antidepressants and the ecosystem that allow it to begin with…


Aug 8, 2019, 1:58 pm Reply

Cool I’m gonna do ketamine


Aug 8, 2019, 10:00 pm Reply

Ketamine, consume I must.
Take lives in order to acquire it, I will.

KO Dragon

Sep 9, 2019, 8:51 am Reply

Imperial College London are looking at the use of mushrooms for treating depression… so, it’s not only ketamine.

hero of gopro

Sep 9, 2019, 11:36 am Reply

mmm… ketamine i must take


Sep 9, 2019, 1:51 am Reply

That didn’t explain anything how how it works in the Brian

anvay aggarwal

Sep 9, 2019, 6:15 am Reply

Cocaine for poor
Highly addictive
You feel sick once you stop consuming


Sep 9, 2019, 3:00 pm Reply



Sep 9, 2019, 8:48 am Reply

It helps with depression for half of day or even whole day but then my depression is back.

Jee Wiz

Sep 9, 2019, 10:18 pm Reply

Explanation for what part the ketamine played in rescuing the boys? Lol

Adrianna H.

Sep 9, 2019, 10:19 am Reply

Tried snorting ketamine at the club a couple of days ago for the first time after the ecstasy high died down (peer pressured). Hours later felt massive pain on both of my temples like I'm having serious migraine but without the throbbing and thumping pain…Can only feel the pain if i rub the sides of my head with my fingers. Is that the effect of K?

Joshua English

Sep 9, 2019, 1:46 am Reply

What the hell is the background music at 1:06 to 2:10?

JimBo’ H

Sep 9, 2019, 2:29 am Reply



Sep 9, 2019, 1:30 pm Reply

Not backed in science

Eric BarryOfficial

Sep 9, 2019, 11:52 pm Reply

So how can i get access to this

Mohamed Ahmed

Sep 9, 2019, 4:48 pm Reply

I thought the boys were happy to be rescued but now I know it was because of the Ketamine lol

Stefan Schüttengruber

Sep 9, 2019, 11:59 pm Reply

but you didnt explain how to boof it??

Leave a Reply