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

The new AJP study is the latest piece of research showing ketamine to be a promising treatment for depression. The research was part of a collaboration between the Yale School of Medicine and Janssen Research and Development, a pharmaceutical subsidiary of Johnson and Johnson. But the sedative has also been abused by partygoers, enough to be considered a "date rape drug" alongside Rohypnol.

The scientists found that those who had taken the esketamine reported significantly decreased suicidal thoughts and reduced depressive symptoms at four hours and 24 hours after administration, though after 25 days the treatment showed no greater effect than the placebo.

Professor Loo added: "It remains unclear whether ketamine nasal sprays can be safely relied upon as a treatment for patients with severe depression". Patients of the other group were given a placebo spray, created to not have any effect.

Although the boost wore off over time - after 25 days, both groups were in a similar condition - the rapid effects of the ketamine spray indicate that it could be particularly beneficial for patients at risk of suicide, especially as most conventional antidepressants take four to six weeks to reach their full effect.

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Washington, D.C. -A nasal spray formulation of ketamine shows promise in the rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study published online today in The American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP). Treatment with antidepressants was continued for all the participants throughout the trial. Esketamine is probably not a long-term treatment, because it has side effects, such as causing hallucinations and feelings of being detached from surroundings. In an accompanying editorial published along with the study, reports of abuse (including cases of prescribed ketamine) were noted.

However, the researchers, as well as members of the AJP Editorial Board, acknowledged the risky potential for abuse that surrounds the drug. They discuss the need for additional research relating to the abuse potential of ketamine during phase 3 trials, such as monitoring of patients' craving and potential ketamine use from other sources.

While the esketamine dependence or misuse was not observed in the trial, the researchers suggested for effective controls on the distribution and use of ketamine.

Ketamine, a class B drug, is licensed for medical use as an anaesthetic, but in recent years scientists have become increasingly interested in its use in mental health treatment.

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