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Ketamine could reduce suicide rates in people affected by severe depression

By on December 18, 2017

The common anesthetic was found to diminish suicidal thoughts by scientists from Columbia University Medical Center in New York City

As suggested by latest study in NY city, ketamine could be a fast and effective suicide thoughts inhibitor.

The discovery is important due to the overwhelming number of people suffering from depression or bipolar disorder that decide to take their own life, as in the United States only this is the 10th leading cause of death, with more than 44.000 victims a year and almost 500.000 self-injured.

Despite being impossible to predict exactly when a person will attempt suicide, there are a few indicators to take into account, such as verbal threats, substance abuse, mood swings etc.

“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. 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,” explains study author Dr. Michael Grunebaum.

So, ketamine was investigated for potential suicidal ideation reducer by assessing 80 adults with severe depression symptoms. After 24 hours from administration, patients reported a significant reduction in suicidal thoughts when compared with the group that was given midazolam.

Moreover, the effect persisted up to 6 weeks, which makes ketamine a potential rapid treatment for acute depression, despite its adverse reactions, such as dissociation and blood pressure increase.

“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,”
Dr. Michael Grunebaum concluded.

The study was published in The American Journal of Psychiatry.

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About Laura Parvan

Medical professional, blogging passionate, with a high interest in social media impact on health-care information.