Therapy with ketamine has a rapid short-term effect on reducing the symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a review of all available evidence.
A systematic review conducted byUniversity of Exeter and funded by the Medical Research Council analyzed the evidence of 83 published research papers . The clearest evidence emerged on theuse of ketamine to treat both major depression and bipolar depression.
Symptoms quickly subsided within one to four hours after a single treatment and lasted for up to two weeks. Some evidence suggests that repeated treatment can prolong the effects, however more high-quality research is needed to determine how long.
The final results of this important work have been published in the scientific journal Complete Systematic Review, British Journal of Psychiatry Open.
Ketamine and depression: here are the results of the research
Single or multiple doses of ketamine resulted in moderate to large reductions in suicidal thoughts during the study. This improvement was seen as early as four hours after ketamine treatment and lasted an average of three days and up to a week.
The lead author Merve Mollaahmetoglu, ofUniversity of Exeter, he has declared: “Our research is the most comprehensive review of the growing body of evidence on ketamine’s therapeutic effects to date. Our findings suggest that ketamine may be helpful in providing rapid relief from depression and suicidal thoughts, creating a window of opportunity for further therapeutic interventions to be effective.It is important to note that this review has examined ketamine administration in clinical settings carefully. controlled where any ketamine risk can be safely managed ”.
For other psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorders, there is early evidence suggesting the potential benefit of ketamine treatment. Additionally, for individuals with substance use disorders, ketamine treatment led to short-term reductions in craving, consumption, and withdrawal symptoms.
The study summarizes evidence from a growing field of research on ketamine’s potential benefits for conditions for which limited effective treatments exist. The review included 33 systematic reviews, 29 randomized control studies, and 21 observational studies.
The effects of ketamine on depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts are supported by numerous systematic reviews and meta-analyzes, which provide a comprehensive overview of research on a given topic.
These are considered to have the highest strength of evidence compared to other types of studies, increasing the confidence in the evidence for the antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects of ketamine.However, the therapeutic effects of ketamine for psychiatric conditions other than depression and suicidal thoughts are based on a small number of studies that have not randomized people into different treatment arms. These effects require replication in larger placebo-controlled randomized trials, which are considered the gold standard.
The authors noted a number of research challenges, which they recommend that future studies should seek to address. One factor is the bias created because participants realize they have received ketamine, rather than a saline solution. The senior author, the professor Celia Morgan, of the University of Exeter, said: “We are finding that ketamine may have promising benefits for conditions notoriously difficult to treat in the clinic. We now need larger and better designed studies to test these benefits. “
“For example, due to the unique subjective effects of ketamine, participants may be able to tell whether they received ketamine or a saline solution as a placebo, potentially creating an expectation of the drug’s effects.This effect can be better controlled with a placebo. active – controlled trials, where the control group receives another drug with psychoactive properties “.
Numerous questions remain unanswered in the research field, including the optimal dose, route of administration and the number of doses of ketamine treatment. There is also a need for more research on the added and interactive benefit of psychotherapy alongside ketamine treatment.
Furthermore, the importance of ketamine’s acute subjective effects in its therapeutic benefits has not been fully explored. Further research is also needed on how to optimize participants’ preparedness for ketamine treatment and the environment in which ketamine treatment is administered.
The research involved collaboration with the University of British Columbia and received support from the Society for the Study of Addiction. The document is titled “Ketamine for the Treatment of Mental Health and Substance Use Disorders: A Comprehensive Systematic Review “ and is published on the British Journal of Psychiatry Open.
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