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Ketamine Reduces Suicidal Thoughts

posted 11:30 PM EST, Sun September 13, 2009
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Ketamine Reduces Suicidal Thoughts © Photo Credit: Sun Singer

Research doctors who administered IV ketamine to depressed patients struggling with suicidal thoughts say that the drug significantly reduced suicidal ideation for 24 hours and that repeated ketamine treatment maintained this result over a period of weeks.

Ketamine is a horse tranquilizer, a party drug – and now possibly, a lifesaving treatment for people with suicidal depression.

Anti depressant medications can take weeks to work fully, and for people experiencing suicidal ideations, weeks can seem a very long time. Seeking a way to accelerate the treatment of serious depression, researchers investigated intravenous ketamine as an experimental medication.

During a recent study, patients with suicidal thoughts were given an IV dosage of ketamine and this single dosage was seen to greatly reduce suicidal ideation for 24 hours; and patients who received repeated ketamine treatment over a period of weeks maintained this reduction in depressive symptoms.

The study results have been published in the September edition of the journal, Biological Psychiatry. Lead researcher, Rebecca Price, said that while positive, the initial results come from a very small sample of subjects and larger trials are needed to build on this early research. She says that hopefully, intravenous ketamine treatment may prove, “an attractive treatment option in situations where waiting for a conventional antidepressant treatment to take effect might endanger the patient's life.”

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