A Massachusetts General Hospital research team recently found that intravenous treatment with low doses of the anesthetic drug ketamine quickly reduced suicidal thoughts in a small group of patients with treatment-resistant depression.
The study found that the ketamine injections, when combined with the patient’s current antidepressant medication, quickly decreased suicidal thinking in patients who had experienced suicidal thoughts for three months or longer.
Ketamine treatment could provide a viable alternative to medications such as lithium and clozapine, which are currently used to treat suicidal thoughts. Both of these drugs can have serious side effects, requiring the careful monitoring of blood levels.
More research will now be needed to test the ketamine treatment versus a placebo and to confirm the results in a larger study group.