Letter to the Editor
I have concerns regarding the article “New Discoveries Promise Help for Depression among Teenagers” in the April edition. The suggestion of using illegal drugs, such as ketamine and psilocybin, for treating depression is very dangerous.
Please consider not only the legal consequences, but also the severe health consequences of using these illegal drugs. Two credible sources, www.samhsa.gov and www.theantidrug.com address the specific dangers of these substances.
Psilocybin, a mind-altering drug, causes hallucinations and can produce rapid, intense mood swings. Hallucinogenic drugs distort or disturb sensory input, sometimes to a great degree. A person taking hallucinogens may decide to step out of a third story window because the ground looks close or the person may think he/she can fly. Depersonalization, acute anxiety, and acute depression resulting in suicide have been noted as a result of hallucinogen use.
Ketamine hydrochloride is a powerful hallucinogen widely used as an animal tranquilizer by veterinarians. Users describe profound hallucinations that include visual distortions and a lost sense of time, sense and identity. Use of Ketamine can result in profound physical and mental problems including delirium, amnesia, impaired motor function and potentially fatal respiratory problems. Club drugs such as Ketamine are often produced in makeshift laboratories because they are illegal; it is impossible to know exactly what chemicals are used to produce them.
Adolescent brains and bodies are still developing; substance use can interfere with this process.
Drug and alcohol use can change the direction of your life – physically, emotionally and behaviorally. It can weaken the ability to concentrate and retain information during peak learning years and impair judgment leading to risky decision making.
An adolescent with depression should be carefully and thoroughly evaluated by a doctor to determine if medication is appropriate. Counseling with a qualified therapist or psychologist is often tried as an initial treatment for mild depression. Counseling may help to determine the severity and persistence of the depression and whether antidepressant medications may be warranted.
Those who are prescribed a medication for treatment of depression should receive ongoing medical monitoring.