Columbia University Medical Center is home to the largest medical research enterprise in New York City and State and one of the largest faculty medical practices in the Northeast.
Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States; each year, around 44,193 people in the USA take their own lives, and a further 494,169 are hospitalized for self-harm injuries. Verbal threats of suicide or being a burden to others, an increase in the use of drugs or alcohol, and changes in mood can all be warning signs.
"Right now accessible antidepressants can be viable in decreasing suicidal thoughts in patients with dejection, however they can produce a long time to have a results".
There's now no treatment for rapidly relieving suicidal thoughts in those who suffer from depression, said Grunebaum. This highlights a possible new treatment against depression which acts more rapidly than the classic antidepressants. However, earlier studies have shown low dosages of ketamine can result in a rapid decrease in the symptoms of depression and may also lead to the reduction in suicidal thoughts.
Dr. Grunebaum and colleagues set out to investigate this association further with their new study.
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In just 24 hours the gathering that took a low dosage of ketamine felt an altogether more prominent lessening of their thoughts of suicide than the others that went on for up to a month and a half.
For the study, researchers selected 80 patients suffering from clinical depression, who also considered suicide.
The participants were randomized to one of two treatment groups.
The drug is not now approved to treat depression, though at least one ketamine-derived drug is chugging along the FDA approval process.
The findings indicated that within 24 hours, the ketamine group had a clinically significant reduction in suicidal thoughts that was greater than with the midazolam group. Some of this was due to the drug improving people's depression, but it also seemed to have a direct impact in relieving their ideation. The improvement was so dramatic that the researchers made a decision to dose patients who failed to respond to midazolam with ketamine a few weeks into their regimen, and these patients showed similar improvement. "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 now available treatments".
If we talk about the side effects of this drug, mild to moderate feeling of disengagement and increase in blood pressure was present during the infusion but these effects resolved in minutes to hours after receiving ketamine. There are still unanswered questions about its potential long-term side effects.