A latest study led by a group of researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) has found that ketamine, a drug which used to start and maintain anaesthesia may reduce suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.
According to scientists, ketamine's anti-suicidal effects occurred within hours after its administration.
Talking about their latest findings published in the American Journal of Psychiatry lead author Michael Grunebaum said, "There is a critical window in which depressed patients, who are suicidal, need rapid relief to prevent self-harm."
"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," Grunebaum was quoted further.
Researchers conduct year-long studies on 80 depressed adults with suicidal thoughts and behavior and prove a low doses of ketamine causes a rapid reduction in depression symptoms and may be accompanied by a decrease in suicidal thoughts.
Consumption of ketamine includes side effects like dissociation and sudden hike in blood pressure during the infusion. However, the symptoms are said to be resolved typically within minutes to hours after use.
"This study shows that ketamine offers promise as a rapidly acting treatment for reducing suicidal thoughts in patients with depression," said Dr. Grunebaum.
"Additional research to evaluate ketamine's antidepressant and anti-suicidal effects may pave the way for the development of new antidepressant medications that are faster acting and have the potential to help individuals who do not respond to currently available treatments," he stated further.