Research News

Ketamine helps a third of patients with treatment resistant depression, finds small UK study

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g2576 (Published 03 April 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g2576
  1. Ingrid Torjesen
  1. 1London

A course of ketamine delivered intravenously could potentially be used to treat severe depression in patients who do not respond to other drugs, a UK study has found.

Currently electroconvulsive therapy may be offered to treatment resistant patients, but the potential benefits have to be balanced against the risk of memory loss.

Small randomised trials have shown that a single infusion of ketamine can have a substantial and rapid antidepressive effect in some treatment resistant patients who had been taken off other antidepressants.1 However, most of these patients relapsed within a week. Ketamine is a licensed drug that is widely used as an anaesthetic and in pain relief but is a class C banned substance because it is also used recreationally.

Researchers in Oxford decided to explore the safety and effectiveness …

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