Ketamine Can Ease Depression, Reduce Suicidal Thoughts

MJ_Prototype via Getty Images                   The nasal spray could provide rapid treatment for patients who are deemed at imminent risk for suicide

MJ_Prototype via Getty Images The nasal spray could provide rapid treatment for patients who are deemed at imminent risk for suicide

During the study, 68 people who were on the verge of committing suicide were treated with anti-depressants.

In previous research, intranasal esketamine administered along with usual antidepressants rapidly improved depression symptoms in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

The study compared the traditional treatment added with an intranasal formulation of esketamine, to traditional treatment included with a placebo for rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression as well as suicidality.

Researchers from the Yale University and Janssen Pharmaceutica conducted the experimental research on antidepressant esketamine, which shows that it can be more effectual to overcome the lengthy treatment with conventional antidepressants that lasts for a number of weeks longer for being completely effective.

This study was a proof-of-concept, phase 2, study for esketamine; it must still go through a phase 3 study before possible FDA approval. Ketamine could also help in the starting stages of treatment, since most anti-depressants take four to six weeks to take effect. However, significant between-group differences were not observed at day 25 (effect size = 0.35).

The researchers compared the effects at four hours after first treatment, at 24 hours and at 25 days. Clinician global judgment of suicide risk scores were not notably different between treatment groups at any time point.

Recorded side effects include dizziness, dissociation, unpleasant taste, and headache.

A nasal spray containing ketamine, a powerful general anaesthetic, has shown promise in treating symptoms of severe depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study. "The results of this study reinforce the potential of esketamine as an acute treatment for patients in crisis".

In a related editorial, Robert Freedman, MD, American Journal of Psychiatry Editorial Board member, and colleagues warns others to be cautious of the deleterious effects of ketamine abuse, especially because most clinical trials have only assessed its acute safety and efficacy.

If approved for use on the NHS, Stone said, the spray "would be aimed at people with severe depression as a second or third line of treatment if other drugs haven't worked", including as a potential alternative to electroconvulsive therapy.

"Education of the public and physicians needs to balance both potential benefits and the risk of abuse".

However, AJP gave caution to the drug's potential for abuse and the need for effective controls. Please see the full study for all other authors' relevant financial disclosures.

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