Ketamine Linked to Significant Benefits for Treating Depression

By May 29, 2013 Drug Safety

Ketamine has been linked to a significant amount of improvement in depression symptoms, according to the results of a huge clinical trial that was conducted by researchers from the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. In fact, the benefits were noticeable within 24 hours of the ketamine being administered. This could prove groundbreaking for patients experiencing drug-resistant depression.

The results of this research were discussed at the American Psychiatric Association meeting that was held May 20, 2013, at the Moscone Center in San Francisco. The trial was led by Dan Iosifescu, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai; Sanjay Mathew, MD, Associate Professor of Psychiatry at Baylor College of Medicine; and James Murrough, MD Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai.

“Using midazolam as an active placebo allowed us to independently assess the antidepressant benefit of ketamine, excluding any anesthetic effects,” said Murrough, who is first author on the new report. “Ketamine continues to show significant promise as a new treatment option for patients with severe and refractory forms of depression.”

More studies will have to be conducted in order for researchers to be able to prove that ketamine works long-term in a safe way, but so far, things are looking good.

“We found that ketamine was safe and well-tolerated and that patients who demonstrated a rapid antidepressant effect after starting ketamine were able to maintain the response throughout the course of the study,” Murrough said. “Larger placebo-controlled studies will be required to more fully determine the safety and efficacy profile of ketamine in depression.”

Antidepressants like Paxil and Effexor are generally used to treat depression and anxiety. However, the drugs have proven dangerous for most people to use. Paxil and Effexor are also known to cause serious side effects, which can include violent and suicidal thoughts and behaviors as well as birth defects in babies whose mothers take the drug while pregnant. Some of those defects include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects and oral clefts. A study like this may go a long toward helping depressed patients find alternative treatments to these dangerous prescription medications. The need for newer and safer medications is on the rise with so many dangers linked to antidepressants. Ketamine may just prove to be the saving grace that helps if it is proven safe with more studies.

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