Ketamine is a veterinary anesthetic that has been used recreationally for at least ten years. Early research suggests that it could have the ability to address all the symptoms of depression, with the effects being felt in hours, rather than the weeks it can often take with traditional antidepressant medications.
However, the hallucinatory properties of this drug have to be considered before any serious look at it as a treatment option could take place. And considering how easily depressed persons self-medicate with any number of substances, it would be counterproductive to prescribe a drug that already has a history of being abused. Even though it appears to be treating the actual symptoms, not just inducing euphoria, the frustrating truth is that it would be too easy to turn a blind eye to "Special K" as a fun drug and doom many depression victims to a life of more drug dependence instead of more freedom from pain.
Seems like a cruel joke, but it really isn't. If ketamine had "instant relief" properties with no obvious dangers, it would be fast-tracked through the approval process, with drug companies rubbing their hands together with glee at the thought of being able to sell it at a much higher price, since the potential market would be expanded from house cats in need of surgery to a large percentage of the human population. Media reports would herald it as the cure we've all been waiting for. Much fanfare would ensue.
Drugs, however, have a strange habit of hiding some of their side effects for months, even years. Fast track research didn't benefit the users of Vioxx. Better to not allow large companies to quickly capitalize on the desire for hope, and make sure they do their homework. The last thing we want is to cause more harm than good.