In a study, patients with depression report improvement with the use of ketamine

In a study, patients with depression report improvement with the use of ketamine

A study published this Monday (12/9) in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry shows new evidence that ketamine – a hospital anesthetic, also considered psychedelic, due to its dissociative effects – contributes to a significant reduction in the symptoms of depression. The drug is considered a promising experimental therapy for treating mental health disorders and a strategy for people resistant to conventional therapies to treat the condition.

Over the course of a year, researchers at MindPeace Clinics, a clinic that uses ketamine in Virginia, in the United States, evaluated the use of the substance in 400 patients. Approximately 70% of the participants showed improvements in mood and 38% of them said they did not experience any symptoms of depression after ten infusions. After 15 sessions, episodes of suicidal ideation decreased by at least 85%.

The volunteers had already tried another form of medical treatment for depression or suicidal ideation before participating in the study. They each received six infusions of 0.5 milligrams of ketamine every 21 days.

Previous studies have shown that ketamine can balance neurotransmitters, rebuild stronger neural connections, and alter mood processes. In 2019, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), equivalent to Anvisa in the US, approved the use of esketamine, a ketamine-derived nasal spray, for people with treatment-resistant depression.

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Study limitations

The authors of the research acknowledge that it has some limitations. There was no screening system for side effects among the participants, for example. Patients were followed up only by calls from nurses after the infusions.

As an anesthetic, the use of ketamine is restricted to hospital use, with limited doses to avoid adverse reactions such as increased blood pressure and heart rate, respiratory arrest, nausea and vomiting, and dissociation, an altered state of perception.

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