Symptoms of depression can be made to disappear in less than two hours with a common anesthetic, not the weeks or months required for onset of relief with traditional antidepressants, according to results of a pilot study. Action Points
Be aware that this study reports results of a small off-label trial of a drug that is not approved for treatment of depression.
Discuss approved pharmacologic and behavioral treatments for clinical depression with patients who express interest in ketamine injections.
"We have broken the sound barrier in depression treatment," said Carlos A. Zarate, Jr., M.D., chief of the mood disorders section the National Institute of Mental Health, who reported on the effects of ketamine, a common anesthetic, in the August 8 issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry.
Dr. Zarate and colleagues said a single injection of ketamine, which targets the N-methlyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor, can eliminate depression symptoms within 110 minutes.