Ketamine can mitigate major depression and suicidal thoughts, according to a U.S. study. A nasal spray formulation of ketamine has shown fast-acting benefits for depression and suicidal thoughts.



A new study is published online in the American Journal of Psychiatry (AJP) today. Researchers at Janssen Research and Development and Janssen Scientific Affairs, Titusville, N.J., and San Diego, and the Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn., conducted the study.

Ketamine is a medication mainly used for starting and maintaining anesthesia. The findings came after a clinical trial showed the drug via a nasal spray can significantly improve the depressive symptoms in the first 24 hours.

The study compared the traditional treatment added with an intranasal formulation of esketamine, to traditional treatment included with a placebo for rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression as well as suicidality.

The researchers randomly asked 68 participants to either receive esketamine or placebo twice a week for four weeks. All participants involved in the study were to receiving treatment with antidepressants throughout. The effects were analyzed by the researchers at four hours after first treatment, at 24 hours and at 25 days.

The researchers found that depression scores were significantly improved and suicidal ideation was decreased among the esketamine group as compared to the placebo group at four hours and at 24 hours.

AJP editor Dr. Robert Freedman said, “Protection of the public’s health is part of our responsibility as well, and as physicians, we are responsible for preventing new drug epidemics.” Freedman added, “This would allow the treatment to continue to be available to those with need, while the population that is at-risk for abuse is protected from an epidemic of misuse.”