People who received intravenous ketamine at three private ketamine infusion clinics had “significant improvements” in depression, anxiety and suicidal ideation, according to a new study published Monday. (CNN)

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WASHINGTON – People who received intravenous ketamine at three private ketamine infusion clinics had “significant improvements” in depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study.

The study was published on Monday Journal of Clinical PsychiatryKT adds to a growing body of research showing promise for treating these conditions.

“It provides some additional real-world information that is very important,” said Dr. Gerard Sanacora, a professor of psychiatry at Yale School of Medicine.

But the study left some critical gaps, including data on side effects and comparisons with other options, that made it difficult to draw conclusions about how it should be used, he said.

Ketamine is a powerful drug used primarily as an anesthetic in hospitals. It is also used illegally as a club drug that produces a powerful high and dissociative effect. Because it is not approved to treat depression and is used “off-label” for that purpose, it is not covered by insurance, even if it is prescribed by a doctor.

The researchers Between November 2017 and May 2021, data were collected on 424 people with treatment-resistant depression who were treated at three ketone infusion clinics in Virginia; This applies to people with suicidal thoughts, depression or anxiety. Patients filled out physical and mental health surveys at each clinic visit. Patients were given six injections over 21 days.

Six weeks after the infection, the researchers said, half of the participants responded to the treatment, and 20% had symptoms of depression. After 10 infections, the response and remission rates are 72% and 38%.

According to the study, half of the patients with suicidal ideation are in recovery after six weeks, and during the treatment the symptoms of anxiety decreased by 30%.

Response rates in the early stages of treatment were similar to oral medication and transcranial magnetic stimulation for treatment-resistant depression, the researchers said. Remission rates were equivalent to transcranial stimulation but were not as helpful as randomized trials of electroconvulsive therapy, which were both more expensive and potentially more dangerous.

Limitations of the study include that it was not a blinded study with a control group. It did not look at people who refused to take the infection, and it was based on self-reported surveys.

The researchers noted that they did not systematically evaluate side effects or side effects of the treatment, but previous studies have not found long-term or permanent side effects on memory or cognitive decline.


I think this is an incredibly useful treatment to add to our armamentarium for combating severe emotional and mental illness, but we must use it responsibly and carefully.

– Dr. Gerard Sanacora, Yale School of Medicine


The lack of information about adverse effects is “sad,” he said proudly. Ketamine comes with “risks specific to both the individual and the community,” including drug abuse and unpredictable effects, especially with frequent use at high levels.

But without data on adverse effects — and without comparing the results to a control group or otherwise, it’s hard to know how to weigh the benefits against the risks.

“My view is that this is an extremely valuable treatment to add to our arsenal in the fight against severe mood disorders and mental illness, but we must use it responsibly and carefully,” he said.

In the year In 2019, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the nasal spray esketamine, a ketamine relative, for treatment-resistant depression. The researchers of the new study say that seed ketamine (which uses two types of ketamine molecules, unlike the single form of esketamine) is cheaper than esketamine and may result in savings covered by insurance.

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