In the last couple of years, ketamine has been used to treat depression, with ketamine clinics across Canada and the United States administering the drug for the management of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.
Ketamine is a dissociative drug commonly used as an anesthetic that causes an individual to lose consciousness and relieve pain. In high doses, ketamine can create neuroplasticity and induce psychedelic experiences. Below, we look at some studies conducted in 2023 that have explored ketamine’s effectiveness in treating a range of mental-health conditions.
Ketamine for the prevention of psychiatric disorders induced by stress
A study carried out by a group of researchers, among them Briana K. Chen, looked into how ketamine could improve stress resilience and possibly aid in the prevention of stress-related psychiatric disorders. The researchers discovered that ketamine could strengthen the brain’s resilience to stress by acting as a prophylactic.
Ketamine for the treatment of depression
Research by Kai Zhang and others looked into ketamine’s antidepressant potential, focusing on its efficacy following the administration of a single dose. The researchers noted the drug’s dual nature; its therapeutic effects on mood and its ability to bring about dissociation.
The researchers also highlighted the need for further studies into ketamine’s mechanisms for the development of more effective and safer treatments for depression.
Ketamine infusions for the management of treatment-resistant bipolar depression
Research by Farhan Fancy and others examined ketamine’s effectiveness in managing treatment-resistant bipolar depression. The study, carried out in a community clinic setting, observed how patients responded to ketamine therapy.
The researchers noted that more than 30% of patients had a positive response to the drug, with about 20% of patients also achieving remission. These findings signal a considerable reduction in symptom severity.
Ketamine for the treatment of cocaine-use disorder
Research led by Zhenxiang Gao used artificial intelligence (AI) to evaluate the drug’s effectiveness in treating cocaine-use disorder. The study found that patients with cocaine-use disorder demonstrated considerable improvement when ketamine was administered.
This research illustrates AI’s role in healthcare and provides new insights into broader therapeutic applications for ketamine.
Ketamine as a second-line therapy for epilepsy in children
Research by Silvia Burrati examined ketamine’s use in children who experienced benzodiazepine-refractory convulsive status epilepticus.
This study is particularly important because this form of epilepsy is a huge challenge in pediatric neurology, given its resistance to conventional therapies. The researchers determined that ketamine posed fewer side effects and could rapidly affect the brain, which helped address seizures effectively.
It is important to note these mental-health benefits cannot be obtained from the recreational use of ketamine. The drug also has a high potential for abuse, which can lead to severe cognitive issues, death of brain cells and bladder issues. This could largely be the reason why many psychedelics companies such as Compass Pathways PLC (NASDAQ: CMPS) are focusing their drug-development efforts on the clinical rather than recreational use of psychedelics.
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