Ketamine may reduce suicidal thoughts

Ketamine powder on a table

This resulted in the limitation of data that showcased exactly how effective anti-depressants were in reducing suicidal tendencies.

A latest study led by a group of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has found that ketamine, a drug which used to start and maintain anaesthesia may reduce suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.

"There is a basic window in which discouraged patients who are suicidal need fast help to forestall self-hurt", lead creator Michael Grunebaum revealed to Science Daily. Further research to assess ketamine's antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects may pave the way for the expansion of new antidepressant medications which are acting quickly and have the potential to benefit the patients, who are not getting any benefits from the now available medications.

Meanwhile, a rapid rebate in depression symptoms has been seen with the use of ketamine's low doses and may be followed by a decrease in suicidal thoughts. Suicidal, depressed patients need treatments that are rapidly effective in reducing suicidal thoughts when they are at highest risk.

"This study demonstrates that ketamine offers guarantee as a quickly acting treatment for decreasing suicidal thoughts in patients with discouragement", Grunebaum said.

Dr. Grunebaum and colleagues set out to investigate this association further with their new study.

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The findings were recently published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

Though previous studies have found popular party drugs to treat depression, the clinical trials have administered carefully controlled dosages meant to have calming effects. The primary endpoint was Scale for Suicidal Ideation (SSI) score 24 hours post-infusion.

In just 24 hours the gathering that took a low dosage of ketamine felt an altogether more prominent lessening of their thoughts of suicide than the others that went on for up to a month and a half.

The participants in this study received either a low-dose infusion of ketamine or the sedative midazolam.

Ketamine's effects on suicidal thoughts remained for up to 6 weeks, the team reports. The improvement in suicidal thoughts and depression in the ketamine group appeared to persist for up to six weeks. Ketamine's reaction on depression accounted for around one-third of its effect on suicidal thoughts, which suggested the substance had an anti-suicidal effect. Side effects of the drug included mild dissociation ("feeling spacey") and increased blood pressure that resolved itself within a few hours if not minutes. However, the team notes that these side effects soon subsided.

"Additional research to evaluate ketamine's antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects may pave the way for the development of new antidepressant medications that are faster-acting and have the potential to help individuals who do not respond to now available treatments".

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