A recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry reveals promising results for the use of ketamine in treating depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. The study, conducted at three private ketamine infusion clinics in Virginia, found that individuals with treatment-resistant depression experienced significant improvement in symptoms after receiving intravenous ketamine.
Researchers analysed data from 424 participants treated between November 2017 and May 2021. The results indicated that within six weeks of starting ketamine infusions, 50% of participants responded positively to the treatment, with 20% achieving depressive symptom remission. After 10 infusions, response and remission rates increased to 72% and 38%, respectively.
Notably, individuals with suicidal ideation showed promising outcomes, with 50% achieving remission after six weeks of treatment. The study also reported a 30% reduction in anxiety symptoms over the course of treatment.
However, the positive findings are accompanied by safety concerns. The drug ketamine, classified as a 'schedule III non-narcotic,' has FDA approval solely for use as a general anaesthetic. The Los Angeles County medical examiner's office recently attributed the death of actor Matthew Perry to the "acute effects" of ketamine. The autopsy report cited drowning, coronary artery disease, and the effects of an opioid (buprenorphine) as contributing factors to his death.
As the medical community explores the therapeutic potential of ketamine, the study emphasises the need for careful consideration of its safety profile, especially when used outside the approved indications.