Researchers here examined if ketamine, a rapidly acting antidepressant with antisuicidal properties, might offer relief to depressed patients presenting to emergency departments with acute suicidal ideation. They conducted a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, proof-of-concept trial randomizing 18 depressed individuals with acute suicidal ideation, who needed hospitalization, to either an intravenous ketamine 0.2 mg/kg group or a saline placebo group. Remission of suicidal ideation was achieved in 88% of the ketamine group vs 33% in the placebo group at 90 minutes after infusion. Outcomes suggest that for depressed, highly suicidal individuals presenting to the emergency department, ketamine is safe and effective for rapid reduction in suicidal ideation.
If you’ve heard of ketamine, it’s probably for its history of abuse as a club drug. But it could also be one of the biggest breakthroughs in treating severe depression in years.