Party drug ketamine is being harnessed for use in treating depression.

Dr Miriam Stoppard has revealed ketamine is at the forefront of a revolutionary new approach to treating the mood disorder and it could replace current antidepressant drugs.

The drug, which has long been used as a horse tranquilliser came to prominence in the 90s as a party drug known for its calming and hallucinogenic effects.

Drugs used to fight depression today can take a minimum of two weeks to kick in for most people, with many having to wait for several months to feel the full benefit.

Now US clinics are developing IV infusions of ketamine, and in March, Esketamine, a nasal ketamine-based drug, was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration for depression treatment, Dr Stoppard told Mirror Online.

RAVE: Dance fans report ketamine gives them "a floaty" feeling

She said: "Antidepressants can take a depressingly long time to kick in – a minimum of two weeks but often more like three to four. That waiting time can be ­disabling for patients, but what if an antidepressant could work in a day?

"Sounds far-fetched? It isn’t."

Dr Stoppard goes on to cite the work of Carlos Zarate of the US National Institute of Mental Health, who says one of the main problems with current ­antidepressants is slow onset speed.

He explains it can take 10-14 weeks to see significant improvement with some antidepressants.

Carlos Zarate of the US National Institute of Mental Health says one of the main problems with current ­antidepressants is slow onset speed. He explains it can take 10-14 weeks to see significant improvement with some antidepressants.

DESPERATE: US psychiatrists treat patients battling depression using ketamine infusions

While ketamine does have transient side effects, they subside quickly because the drug is eliminated rapidly from the body, but the therapeutic effects last seven days or longer.

Zarate’s team is now honing the drug’s effectiveness and tolerance, and they have one form without the side effects.

A few dozen patients with ­treatment-resistant depression have been treated with ketamine in UK trials, and if approved it’ll probably only be available privately because of cost ([around £30,000 a year]. It’s unlikely the NHS could afford it.

Professor Rupert McShane at Oxford ­University points out patients treated with IV ketamine must be carefully monitored in a clinic for two hours after each dose.

Ketamine is given twice a week for the first month, once a week for the second, and once a week or once a fortnight from then on.