In a new study from the University of Exeter, researchers found ketamine therapy has a swift short-term effect on reducing symptoms of depression and suicidal thoughts.
They analyzed evidence from 83 published research papers. The strongest evidence emerged around the use of ketamine to treat both major depression and bipolar depression.
Symptoms were reduced as swiftly as one to four hours after a single treatment, and lasted up to two weeks.
Some evidence suggested that repeated treatment may prolong the effects, however more high-quality research is needed to determine by how long.
Similarly, single or multiple doses of ketamine resulted in moderate to large reductions in suicidal thoughts.
This improvement was seen as early as four hours following ketamine treatment and lasted on average three days, and up to a week.
This research is the most comprehensive review of the growing body of evidence on the therapeutic effects of ketamine to date.
The findings suggest that ketamine may be useful in providing rapid relief from depression and suicidal thoughts, creating a window of opportunity for further therapeutic interventions to be effective.
It’s important to note that this review examined ketamine administration in carefully controlled clinical settings where any risks of ketamine can be safely managed.
For other psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorders and obsessive-compulsive disorders, there is early evidence to suggest the potential benefit of ketamine treatment.
Moreover, for individuals with substance use disorders, ketamine treatment led to short-term reductions in craving, consumption and withdrawal symptoms.
A number of questions remain unanswered in the research field, including the optimal dose, route of administration and number of doses of ketamine treatment.
There is also a need for further research on the added and interactive benefit of psychotherapy alongside ketamine treatment.
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The study is published in the British Journal of Psychiatry Open. One author of the study is Merve Mollaahmetoglu.
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