Ketamine has widely been dubbed as a “club drug”. However, over the last few years, ketamine has been experimented in order to research its quick antidepressant effects. Although there are still researches going on, there’s been a surge of clinics in America that administer doses of ketamine. It should be noted that there is yet to be many studies conducted in order to identify the ideal dosages and how safe the drug is for long-term use.
With recent studies being conducted around ketamine and its’ positive feedback on depressed patients, there’s now new findings that also show that ketamine may provide more promising results. Two new studies suggest that the psychiatric benefits of ketamine treatments may help target anxiety and addiction.
A study conducted by a team from Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School experimented with how ketamine effect patients with anxiety-based treatment-resistant depression. This experiment sheds some hope on patients who have seeked help from traditional antidepressants to no avail.
Within this study, there were 99 subjects who had treatment-resistant depression. Of this sample, half were patients who suffered from high anxiety while the other half had shown no anxiety symptoms. The subjects were then randomly administered one of four different ketamine doses. The control was midazolam, a general sedative. The experimenters concluded was that the drug works well with both the anxious and non-anxious subjects. This goes to show that ketamine has the potential to tackle treatment-resistant depression despite the various factors and differences between subjects.Notably, this is a promising result because ketamine is able to tackle treatment-resistant depression regardless of differing conditions which is something many antidepressant drugs are not able to achieve.
Another study conducted by a team at Yale University School of Medicine investigated how ketamine could affect addiction-related depression when administered with naltrexone. Naltrexone acts as an opioid receptor blocker and is often effective when used against substance abuse problems. In 2018, one study found that there was reason to believe that ketamine was ineffective in treating depression when administered with naltrexone. From ketamine’s nature of activating opioid receptors, this also suggested that long-term use of ketamine may result in addiction and other problems which casted doubt in the use of ketamine. However, from the research conducted under Yale University School of Medicine, there was evidence to believe that ketamine and naltrexone don’t cancel each other out.
The study conducted under the team at Yale had a sample size of five patients who were suffering from alcohol use disorder and depression. After being administered ketamine while consuming naltrexone long-term, all subjects showed relief from their depressive states. John Krystal, senior author of the study, concurs that there is still much research to be done which would further support the statement that naltrexone and ketamine are a complimentary combination when treating substance abuse and related depression. Evidently, the findings from the study conducted by Yale helps to assuage the fear that ketamine may be another form of opioid.