Ketamine as an antidepressant 

The anesthetic may have some uses as an antidepressant

If you’ve heard of the drug ketamine it has likely been in the context of its use as an anesthetic or pain reliever. You may also have heard of its illicit use as a street drug.

Interestingly, this medication (which was first developed in 1962) has recently received some attention for its potential use in the treatment of depression.

There has been some excitement about ketamine and other drugs like it as a possible alternative in cases of treatment-resistant depression. Much more research is still needed, but studies to date show ketamine clearly has some antidepressant effect.

Ketamine works differently than other antidepressant medications. It is typically given in a single intravenous dose and works by blocking NMDA receptors and unlike existing antidepressants it seems to have a rapid effect – providing symptom relief within 24 hours compared with several weeks for conventional medications.

A recent meta-analysis (published in the American Journal of Psychiatry) of studies examining ketamine use for depression gives mixed results – confirming the rapid therapeutic effect but also showing its positive effects are short-lived  and it is somewhat problematic because of a potential for abuse and neurotoxicity.

Although ketamine provides a powerful and quick effect, results of seven studies show its benefit seems to wane after about a week. Additional studies looking at ketamine used in conjunction with ECT found that it seemed to augment the antidepressant effect of ECT at the start of the treatment but not at the end of the treatment course.

Much more information is needed before we can confidently pronounce ketamine as a useful tool in the battle against depression. We have virtually no data on the use of ketamine on an ongoing basis, there are some real concerns about its safety, and we don’t know enough about exactly how it works.

Perhaps with more study and development, ketamine or other NMDA antagonists can be honed and may provide an additional option for people experiencing depression.

In the meantime, if you or a loved on are depressed, speak to your doctor. We do have effective medications and therapy that are proven to help many people.

At Okanagan Clinical Trials we will soon be starting a study of an investigational medication for depression. Contact us to learn if you are eligible to participate.

Kelowna Capital News

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

David Short ended up losing everything after a fall rendered him unable to work, or pay his bills. His saving grace? Cooking. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Untold: How cooking helped a Kelowna man stay off the streets

David Short spent over a year on the street after suffering a seizure

This historic photo is of Kelowna City Park aquatic facilities in 1954. 

The recently renovated facilities were remodelled to create the new Ogopogo Stadium and Pool capable of seating 5,000 spectators. This facility hosted sporting activities as well as dances, banquets, weddings, meetings, concerts, and water musicals. 

The Ogopogo Stadium also hosted Canadian Championships in rowing, diving, swimming, hydroplane and speedboat races. 

The photo was originally posted to the group Old Kelowna on Facebook back in 2014.
A look back at Kelowna’s past

Ice race on Wood Lake circa 1992

Dr. Bonnie Henry, provincial health officer, updates British Columbians about COVID-19 at a press conference earlier this week. (B.C. Government image)
B.C.’s 1st case of COVID-19 confirmed a year ago today

Here’s a look at some of the key dates in the province’s fight against the novel coronavirus

Grade 6 class students at Watson Road Elementary had an opportunity to learn about woodworking by building their own toolboxes. (Contributed)
Toolbox project rewarding for Central Okanagan students

Initiative benefits high school and elementary school classes

Crown prosecutors have stayed attempted murder charges against Kelowna’s Jesse Pez. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Man accused in Kelowna Halloween stabbing has attempted murder charge stayed

The Crown only proceeds with charges when evidence provides ‘a substantial likelihood of conviction’

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix looks on as Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry addresses the media during a news conference at the BC Centre of Disease Control in Vancouver B.C. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward)
B.C. announces 485 new COVID-19 cases, fewest deaths in months

‘The actions we take may seem small, but will have a big impact to stop the virus,” urges Dr. Henry

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Vancouver Island woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny rescue operation

Amy McLaughlin has rescued more than 400 bunnies, pushing for the capacity to help more

Grad student Marisa Harrington and her supervisor Lynneth Stuart-Hill say preliminary results from a study into the affects of stress on hospital nurses show an impact on sleep and heart variability. (Courtesy of Marisa Harrington)
University of Victoria study shows stress impact on B.C. nurses

Stress may be impacting sleep, heart health of hospital nurses in Victoria region

Keith Thorpe/Peninsula Daily News
Search called off for small plane that went down in rough water south of Victoria

Plane bound for Port Angeles from Alaska believed to have one occupant, an Alaskan pilot

Summerland’s second hospital was built in 1914. The land, known as Hospital Hill, was donated by the Summerland Development. At the time, the cost of the hospital was $5,996. (Photo courtesy of the Summerland Museum.)
Summerland hospital served community during previous pandemic

Hospital, constructed n 1914, was in use during the 1918 Spanish flu

RCMP released this photo on Jan. 27, 2021 of Terrance Jones, 40, a Caucasian man with a closely shaved head, brown eyes, dirty blonde or brown hair, and a thin mustache and beard. The inside of his right arm is covered in tattoos, including one of a face. (Kamloops RCMP photo)
RCMP want public’s help to locate Shuswap man wanted on charge of attempted murder

Sicamous man was arrested previously on Jan. 11 for allegedly breaching conditions of release

Royal B.C. Museum conservator Megan Doxsey-Whitfield kneels next to a carved stone pillar believed to have significance as a First Nations cultural marker by local Indigenous people. The pillar was discovered on the beach at Dallas Road last summer. Museum curatorial staff have been working with Songhees and Esquimalt Nation representatives to gain a clearer picture of its use. (Photo courtesy Royal BC Museum)
Stone carving found on Victoria beach confirmed Indigenous ritual pillar

Discussion underway with the Esquimalt and Songhees about suitable final home for the artifact

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Most Read