In a huge new development, scientists have found that ketamine relieved suicidal thoughts within hours of taking it.
Scientists may have just achieved a major breakthrough in the battle against depression and suicide, demonstrating in a study that ketamine could reduce suicidal thoughts in depressed people within a matter of hours. The study found that ketamine was much more effective than other sedatives at reducing such thoughts, and it worked a lot more quickly.
That’s important because there isn’t much time to save someone who intends to harm himself or herself, so a fast-acting drug could prevent a lot of deaths. Most antidepressants available today take weeks to have any effect, but ketamine may work within just hours after being administered.
In the study, researchers divided 80 clinically depressed adults into two groups, with one taking ketamine and the other taking the sedative midazolam. The group that took the low dose of ketamine had much reduced thoughts of suicide than in the other group, and that feeling lasted for up to six weeks.
“There is a critical window in which depressed patients who are suicidal need rapid relief to prevent self-harm,” said Michael Grunebaum, MD, a research psychiatrist at CUMC, who led the study. “Currently available antidepressants can be effective in reducing suicidal thoughts in patients with depression, but they can take weeks to have an effect. Suicidal, depressed patients need treatments that are rapidly effective in reducing suicidal thoughts when they are at highest risk. Currently, there is no such treatment for rapid relief of suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.”