Ketamine: a hallucinogenic drug to emergency treatment against depression

A formula of ketamine spray for nasal administration has been used in the rapid treatment of the symptoms of major depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a new study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP).

The double-blind study compared the standard treatment plus an intranasal formulation of esketamina, the part of the molecule of ketamine to the standard treatment plus a placebo for the quick treatment of the symptoms of depression, including suicide, among people with risk of imminent suicide. The study involved 68 participants randomly assigned to one of two groups, either receiving esketamina or placebo twice a week for four weeks. All participants continued to receive treatment with antidepressants. The researchers analyzed the effects at four hours after the first treatment, at 24 hours and 25 days.

The results showed a significant improvement in the scores of depression and decrease suicidal ideation in the group of esketamina in comparison with the placebo group at four hours and 24 hours. However, the effects of the esketamina not were greater than placebo for 25 days. The measurement of suicide risk took into account the perspectives of both the patient and the physician.

The results of the study point to the esketamina nasal spray as a possible quick treatment effective for the depressive symptoms in patients who are considered to have an imminent risk of suicide, according to the authors. The esketamina could be an important treatment to close the gap that exists due to the delayed effect of most antidepressants take four to six weeks to be fully effective.

However, the authors warn that more research is needed on the potential for abuse of ketamine.

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