Home Mental Health & Well-Being Ketamine Offers New Hope in Treating Severe Depression and Suicidal Thoughts, Study Finds

Ketamine Offers New Hope in Treating Severe Depression and Suicidal Thoughts, Study Finds

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Recent advancements in mental health treatment have highlighted the significant role of ketamine and esketamine in addressing treatment-resistant depression (TRD), particularly among patients experiencing suicidal ideation. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Psychiatry and Psychology sheds light on this vital development.

Depression is a pressing public health concern, with nearly 1 in 5 Americans diagnosed at some point in their lives. Alarmingly, suicide rates among young adults and children have reached their highest since 1968. These startling statistics underscore the need for effective interventions to combat depression and its most extreme manifestation: suicidality.

The findings were published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Traditional antidepressants, though beneficial, often take weeks to exhibit full efficacy, and approximately one-third of patients remain unresponsive even after multiple treatment attempts. This predicament has spurred the search for rapid-acting antidepressants that can swiftly alleviate depression and suicidality, enhancing patients’ quality of life.

Ketamine, originally an anaesthetic, has emerged as a promising candidate in this regard. Its intravenous (IV) form and its enantiomer, esketamine, available as an intranasal (IN) treatment, have gained traction due to their rapid-acting nature. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved IN esketamine for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and major depressive disorder (MDD) with suicidal ideation or behaviour. While IV ketamine has shown potential as an anti-suicidal agent in controlled trials, esketamine has demonstrated significant reductions in depressive symptoms.

The Mayo Clinic’s study involved a historical cohort of 52 adults (62.5% female, median age 49.1 years), predominantly treated with IV ketamine (71%). The study found that 81% of participants reported suicidal ideation at baseline. Notably, those with baseline suicidal ideation required more treatments to achieve a therapeutic response compared to those without such ideation.

The study’s results indicate a similar antisuicidal response between IV ketamine and IN esketamine, suggesting both treatments as viable options for patients with TRD. But a key finding is that patients with baseline suicidal ideation may require more treatments to achieve a response.

This study underscores the potential of ketamine and esketamine as critical tools in the battle against depression and suicidality. However, the research also highlights the necessity for more extensive studies, including randomised controlled trials, to further understand and optimise these treatments. The ultimate goal is to offer rapid relief to those suffering from the debilitating effects of TRD, particularly those at risk of suicide.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd