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The anesthetic ketamine has drawn excitement in recent years as a fast-acting and effective treatment for severe depression. Now, a small, new study sheds light on exactly how the drug works to treat depression, with a surprising finding: Ketamine needs to activate opioid receptors in order to have anti-depressant effects.

The new findings challenge previous views on how the drug works to treat depression, the researchers said. "It doesn't work like everyone thought it was working," co-senior study author Dr. Alan Schatzberg, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a statement.

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