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Study: Ketamine Infusions Reduce Depression, Anxiety, Suicidal Ideation in Some Patients

October 14, 2022Intravenous ketamine infusions could effectively reduce symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), suicidal ideation (SI), and anxiety, according to a new study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. The study analyzed data from 424 TRD patients who received ketamine injections from November 2017 to May 2021.

1Patients received six ketamine infusions at a starting dose of 0.5 mg/kg, each one lasting around 40 minutes. Half of the patients responded to treatment within six weeks, and 20% reported remission of their depression symptoms.

(After 10 infusions, response and remission rates for depression were 72% and 38%, respectively.) During the same period, 50% of patients with self-harm/suicidal ideation reported entering remission or had fewer symptoms. One-third of patients reported decreased anxiety symptoms.“The high rates of response and remission were similar to those for interventional treatments in community samples of TRD,” researchers wrote.

However, they acknowledged several limitations of the study, which included no control group and used self-reported patient data. “Comparative efficacy trials with other interventions and randomized controlled trials of racemic ketamine infusion as the primary treatment for SI are needed,” researchers said.Roberto Olivardia, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and clinical instructor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, discussed ketamine treatment for depression in the 2019 ADDitude webinar titled “The ADHD-Depression Connection in Adults: Understanding the Link, Distinct Symptoms, and First-Line Treatments.”“Ketamine is a hallucinogenic drug with properties that can be very useful in treating depression,” Olivardia said.

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