Ketamine Research

Ketamine Research

Dual studies highlight ketamine’s potential to treat anxiety and addiction

January 10, 2019
Two new studies suggest the psychiatric benefits of ketamine treatment may extend beyond just the targeting of depression. The research demonstrates ketamine may be helpful in targeting both anxiety- and substance abuse-related depression.

Although ketamine is a relatively old drug, originally developed in the 1950s as an anesthetic, over the last decade a growing body of research has affirmed its unique, and rapid, antidepressant effects. The anecdotal effects of the drug on depression have raced ahead of scientific research so quickly that ketamine clinics have popped up all across the United States, where the drug can be administered for up to US$1,000 a dose.

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Ketamine Infusions Reduce Suicidal Ideation in Depression: Characterizing Different Responses

September 18, 2018
Ketamine infusions elicit different responses among 3 distinct subgroups of individuals dealing with depression and suicidal ideation. One group, remitters, had no suicidal ideation by day 2, and another group, responders, showed improvement independent of depressed mood, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Researchers pooled data from 5 clinical trials involving treatment-resistant individuals with major depressive disorder or bipolar depression (N=128). All participants received a ketamine infusion and were evaluated at baseline and days 1 through 3. Evaluations included plasma markers to monitor neurotrophic factors, kynurenine pathway analytes, inflammatory cytokines, cortisol, and suicidal ideation composite scores to monitor depressed mood, hopelessness, sadness, and suicidal thoughts.

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Ketamine A 'Lifesaving' Aid for Depression?

August 21, 2018
Ketamine, a widely used anesthetic that’s also an illicit party drug, has taken on a new role in recent years: treating severe depression in people who have not responded to standard treatment. Researchers have called it the most exciting breakthrough in the field of depression research in the past half-century.

One form of the drug, being developed as a nasal spray called esketamine, is in the final stages of testing needed before it can go to the FDA for approval.

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Low-Dose Ketamine Benefits Cognitive Function in Treatment-Resistant Depression

August 21, 2018
A low dose of ketamine infusion can provide a rapid and sustained antidepressant effect in patients with treatment-resistant depression, according to a study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders. In addition, a subanesthetic dose of ketamine was shown to improve functional impairment traditionally associated with treatment-resistant depression.

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Ketamine shows potential in teens with treatment-resistant depression

August 14, 2018
Average scores on the Children's Depression Rating Scale dropped by 42.5% following low-dose IV ketamine infusions among 13 teenagers with treatment-resistant depression, findings published in Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology showed.

“Adult [treatment-resistant depression] research has begun to explore repeated administrations of ketamine, which may have promise for greater effectiveness and longer remission periods than single doses,” Kathryn R. Cullen, MD, division of child and adolescent psychiatry, University of Minnesota Medical School, and colleagues wrote.

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Ketamine Eases Depression in Adolescents in Small Trial

August 8, 2018
Adolescents treated with intravenous ketamine for treatment-resistant depression showed a significant average decrease— 42.5%—in Children’s Depression Rating Scale scores, according to a small, open-label study published online in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

“Novel interventions for treatment-resistant depression (TRD) in adolescents are urgently needed,” wrote researchers. “Ketamine has been studied in adults with TRD, but little information is available for adolescents.”

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Ketamine has potential therapeutic role in adolescents with treatment-resistant depression

August 1, 2018
A new study has shown a significant average decrease in the Children's Depression Rating Scale (42.5%) among adolescents with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) who were treated with intravenous ketamine. The study, which demonstrated the tolerability and potential role of ketamine as a treatment option for adolescents with TRD, is published in Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology.

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Old Drugs Provide New Hope to Patients With Depression

July 12, 2018
While depression is a treatable condition, some individuals do not respond to conventional prescription medications or talk therapies.

It can be a long and frustrating road for those with treatment-resistant depression who seek help, but Dr. Pierre Blier, Director of Mood Disorder Research at The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research (IMHR), has been able to offer hope to some of these individuals, via a cutting-edge treatment that uses an old drug in a new and effective way.

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Specific Features in Mood Disorders May Affect Outcome of Ketamine Treatment

May 12, 2018
Results of a recent study indicate that response to ketamine treatment in mood disorders may be better predicted based on existing baseline metabolic-inflammatory alterations, most notably cognitive impairment.

Researchers aimed to identify mood disorder subpopulations that were more, or less, likely to respond to treatment with ketamine. Current literature indicates that ketamine has a quick antidepressant effect on treatment-resistant depression symptoms in patients with both major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder. The authors focused their study on predictive pretreatment elements in these disorders.

They searched PubMed/MEDLINE,, and Scopus for relevant literature and bibliographies that included terms such as major depressive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, remission.

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NMDAR inhibition-independent antidepressant actions of ketamine metabolites

January 2016
Major depressive disorder affects around 16 per cent of the world population at some point in their lives. Despite the availability of numerous monoaminergic-based antidepressants, most patients require several weeks, if not months, to respond to these treatments, and many patients never attain sustained remission of their symptoms.

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A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Dose-Frequency Study of Intravenous Ketamine in Patients With Treatment-Resistant Depression

April 2016
Ketamine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate glutamate receptor antagonist, has demonstrated a rapid-onset antidepressant effect in patients with treatment-resistant depression. This study evaluated the efficacy of twice- and thrice-weekly intravenous administration of ketamine in sustaining initial antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression.

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Efficacy of Intravenous Ketamine for Treatment of Chronic Posttraumatic Stress Disorder

June 2014
The primary outcome measure was change in PTSD symptom severity, measured using the Impact of Event Scale–Revised. Secondary outcome measures included the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, the Clinical Global Impression–Severity and –Improvement scales, and adverse effect measures, including the Clinician-Administered Dissociative States Scale, the Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale, and the Young Mania Rating Scale.

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Randomized controlled crossover trial of ketamine in obsessive-compulsive disorder: proof-of-concept

November 2013
Serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs), the first-line pharmacological treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), have two limitations: incomplete symptom relief and 2-3 months lag time before clinically meaningful improvement. New medications with faster onset are needed. As converging evidence suggests a role for the glutamate system in the pathophysiology of OCD, we tested whether a single dose of ketamine, a non-competitive N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) glutamate receptor antagonist, could achieve rapid anti-obsessional effects.

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Antidepressant Efficacy of Ketamine in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression: A Two-Site Randomized Controlled Trial

October 2013
Ketamine, a glutamate Nmethyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, has shown rapid antidepressant effects, but small study groups and inadequate control conditions in prior studies have precluded a definitive conclusion. The authors evaluated the rapid antidepressant efficacy of ketamine in a large group of patients with treatment-resistant major depression.

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Rapid and Longer-Term Antidepressant Effects of Repeated Ketamine Infusions in Treatment-Resistant Major Depression

June 2012
Ketamine is reported to have rapid antidepressant effects; however, there is limited understanding of the time-course of ketamine effects beyond a single infusion. A previous report including 10 participants with treatment-resistant major depression (TRD) found that six ketamine infusions resulted in a sustained antidepressant effect. In the current report, we examined the pattern and durability of antidepressant effects of repeated ketamine infusions in a larger sample, inclusive of the original.

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Synaptic Dysfunction in Depression: Potential Therapeutic Targets

October 2012
Basic and clinical studies demonstrate that depression is associated with reduced size of brain regions that regulate mood and cognition, including the prefrontal cortex and the hippocampus, and decreased neuronal synapses in these areas. Antidepressants can block or reverse these neuronal deficits, although typical antidepressants have limited efficacy and delayed response times of weeks to months.

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NMDA Receptor Blockade at Rest Triggers Rapid Behavioural Antidepressant Responses

July 2011
Clinical studies consistently demonstrate that a single sub-psychomimetic dose of ketamine, an ionotropic glutamatergic NMDAR (N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor) antagonist, produces fast-acting antidepressant responses in patients suffering from major depressive disorder, although the underlying mechanism is unclear.

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A Randomized Add-on Trial of an N-methyl-D-aspartate Antagonist in Treatment-Resistant Bipolar Depression

August 2010
—Existing therapies for bipolar depression have a considerable lag of onset of action. Pharmacological strategies that produce rapid antidepressant effects—for instance, within a few hours or days—would have an enormous impact on patient care and public health.

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Maintenance Ketamine Treatment Produces Long-term Recovery from Depression

April 2010
Patients not responding to conventional treatment for depression are classified as having treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Electroconvulsive therapy is effective in ~50% of the patients diagnosed with TRD. Recent reports of rapid antidepressant effect with a single dose of ketamine suggest a potential benefit for TRD patients. However, there are no studies characterizing optimal dosing parameters (eg, frequency and inter-dose interval). The following case describes the effects of two ketamine administration regimens in a patient with a 15-year history of depression.

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Safety and Efficacy of Repeated-Dose Intravenous Ketamine for Treatment-Resistant Depression

A single subanesthetic (intravenous) IV dose of ketamine might have rapid but transient antidepressant effects in patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Here we tested the tolerability, safety, and efficacy of repeated-dose open-label IV ketamine (six infusions over 12 days) in 10 medication-free symptomatic patients with TRD who had previously shown a meaningful antidepressant response to a single dose.

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