Its notoriety as a rave drug jolts folks a bit, when they hear that ketamine is being used to treat refractory depression. Yes, ketamine…the ‘horse tranquilizer’ the drug that has taken many down the ‘K-hole’. That one. Over the past couple decades, scientists have conducted numerous studies that have repeatedly and consistently revealed the efficacy of low-dose ketamine infusions in treating depression in people for whom standard pharmacological treatments have not worked. Ketamine was developed in 1962 and has been used as a general anesthetic for more than 30 years. The drug has a remarkably safe track record when used in clinical settings and is on the World Health Organization’s List of Essential Medicines. Ketamine is FDA-approved as an anesthetic, but research continues to inform us that low doses of ketamine, administered intravenously, can produce rapid antidepressant effects.
The Science Behind It
A meta-analysis* conducted in 2015 looked at three randomized controlled trials (RCTs), in which subjects with treatment-resistant bipolar depression were given sub-dissociative, sub-anesthetic, intravenous doses of ketamine. Subjects were administered the Montgomery–Åsberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS), a ten-item diagnostic questionnaire used to measure the severity of depressive episodes in patients with mood disorders, before and following infusion therapy. Subjects showed significant improvements in depression scores in the groups that received ketamine infusion therapy, compared with the groups that received placebos. Not only did depression scores change, but subjects reported rapidly reduced levels of anhedonia, or the inability to feel pleasure, and suicidal ideation. Moreover, these effects lasted up to 14 days for some subjects.
A Glimmer of Light
Scientific research is designed to inform us, enlighten us, and give us the knowledge we need to offer effective solutions to patients’ problems. The aforementioned meta-analysis gives us hope that ketamine might just work fast enough to decrease suicidal rates and improve quality of life in those suffering with debilitating depressive and mood disorders.
If you would like more information on how ketamine infusion therapy might be used to treat depressive and bipolar disorders, click here: http://www.neuromendcenter.com/contact-neuromend-infusion-center-Lafayette-Louisiana.html.
Parsaik A, Singh B, Khosh-Chashm D, et al. Efficacy of Ketamine in Bipolar Depression: Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. Journal of Psychiatric Practice. 2015;21(6):427-35.