Rebecca Brachman is a 34-year-old neuroscientist at Columbia University. And she thinks she may have found a drug that instills a mental resilience that allows people to go through a horrible experience without reliving it in a distressing way afterward—a kind of vaccine against a very specific kind of depression.
In 2014, Brachman was studying the emotional behavior of mice and as part of the process, gave them some ketamine, which has had several trials as an antidepressant for severe depression. But the drug was known to wear off in a few hours in mice.
But weeks later, Brachman decided to hold another experiment with the same mice to see how they deal with chronic stress conditions. Brachman found that the mice that had previously taken the drug were completely inoculated against the depressive symptoms usually associated with that type of experiment.