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On micro-dosing Ketamine and Depression

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Rising Star

A Ketamine micro-dose can restore the integration of the cortex with the amygdala and the ability to process negative feelings.

Background on neurology

The amygdala is a part of the brain where primal feelings (such as fear, etc.) are located. This makes sense, because we have inherited this part of the brain through evolution.

In contrast, the cortex is where higher functions (such as analytical thinking, etc.) are located. This part of the brain has evolved very recently and, in humans, the pre-frontal cortex is several times larger than in other primates.

There are special fibres which connect the cortex to the rest of the brain, and therefore integrate the higher functions with the activity in the rest of the brain.

One of the mechanisms behind depression

Very stressful situations (whether at work, or in personal life) lead to elevated levels of glutamate in the brain. This is a neuro-chemical which, in large amounts, causes the atrophy of neurones and a reduction in how parts of the cortex are integrated with the amygdala. This loss in connectivity leads to reduced correlation between the two, with the cortex becoming unable to modulate negative feelings.

The effects of micro-dosing Ketamine

The protocol usually consists of exposure to between one and three successive small doses of Ketamine (significantly below the threshold level for psychedelic effects) over the course of 30-60 minutes. This blocks the effects of glutamate temporarily, allowing for the growth of new neurone spines (which enable neurones to pass electrical signals between each other). Shortly after the session, the effects of atrophy are reversed and connectivity between the cortex and other parts of the brain is normalised.

Usually, this type of therapy leads to relief from depressive symptoms.


Neuroscience offers a way to make sense of the mechanism that sometimes underpins depression. The patient typically lacks the capacity for psychological self-regulation of the underlying factors. A micro-dose of Ketamine is a type of chemical intervention that can reverse the mechanism and restore the centre of consciousness to a different level.



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