Ketamine was 80% effective at decreasing depression symptoms, in a study of 100 depression patients who received less frequent and lower total doses of ketamine than are typically administered to treat depression.

Each study participant received no more than one ketamine intravenous infusion per week, with 4.3 having been the average total number of ketamine infusions received by a patient during the study. The frequency with which an infusion was received and the total number of infusions received by a patient were tailored to each patient’s responses to the therapy, according to the study’s author, Dr. Theodore Henderson. This study used a schedule of treatments for patients that differed from the established protocol for ketamine usage as an antidepressant, which is 3 times per week.

Prior to receiving the intravenous ketamine infusions, study participant’s Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report (QIDS-SR) score was 17.87 plus or minus 2.8 points, which corresponds to being severely depressed. The QIDS-SR score for each of the 80 study participants who responded to the therapy decreased by 10.8 plus or minus 3.5 points. The QIDS-SR of each of the 20 non-responders to the therapy changed by 0.8 plus or minus 1.8 points.

This study showed “clinical improvement with much fewer infusions for most patients. From a mechanistic standpoint, this can only be possible if ketamine is inducing increased BDNF [brain-derived neurotrophic factor] which leads to lasting changes in synapses, dendrites, and neuronal circuits,” Dr. Henderson said

The study participants comprised 80 patients with recurrent unipolar depression and 20 patients with recurrent bipolar depression from Neuro-Luminance Ketamine Infusion Centers. Side effects experienced by the patients included elevated blood pressure, nausea, and dizziness, which was very common.

“Further controlled studies of the best clinical methods for ketamine infusion therapy are encouraged.” Dr. Henderson said.

Read the study in Neural Regeneration Research ( doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.177708 ).


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