After medications fail, ketamine gets half of patients out of the blues, a research has shown.

Researchers in Boston found ketamine was just as effective as the 'gold standard' treatment for major depression (stock image)

According to a research, ketamine may help those with the most severe type of depression.

403 individuals with significant depression who did not respond to traditional therapies, such as medication, were gathered by researchers at Mass General Brigham Hospital in Boston.

55 percent of individuals who received ketamine through intravenous drip reported symptom improvement during the next six months.

By comparison, of those who received electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) — the “gold standard” for these patients that involves sending electricity through the brain to “reject” connections — 41 percent reported an improvement over the same period.

The study adds to growing evidence that ketamine – along with other psychedelics – could be an effective treatment for depression, potentially helping people by reshaping connections in the brain and stimulating the formation of new ones.

It comes after a separate document revealed yesterday that ketamine seizures have risen 350 percent in just five years as the drug rises in popularity on the renaissance scene.

Researchers in Boston found ketamine was just as effective as the ‘gold standard’ treatment for major depression (stock image)

The graph above shows the results of the study.  This shows that ketamine was at least as effective as ECT

The graph above shows the results of the study. This shows that ketamine was at least as effective as ECT

About one in 10 Americans ages 18 and older suffers from depression, statistics show.

Patients are generally offered medications such as SSRIs and cognitive therapy to relieve symptoms. But when these fail, they can be given the ‘gold standard’ ECT therapy.

However, this treatment – developed in the late 1930s – is controversial because it causes epileptic seizures in patients and can cause memory loss.

However, scientists are now investigating another way to treat depression, by administering the ‘party drug’ ketamine through an IV. They’re also looking at psychedelics like psilocybin — found in magic mushrooms.

In the study, published today in the New England Journal of Medicineresearchers recruited 403 people aged 45 years between March 2017 and September 2022.

All had been diagnosed with major depressive disorder (MDD), a more severe and persistent form of depression characterized by intense and prolonged feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and a loss of interest or pleasure in most activities.

They also all had ‘treatment-resistant’ forms of the condition, where drugs had failed to relieve their symptoms.

The group was split in two, with one half receiving ECT three times a week, while the rest received ketamine intravenously twice a week.

The treatment was carried out for three weeks and then the patients’ symptoms were examined every month for six months.

The results showed that both treatments led to relief from depression and an improvement in quality of life.

ECT has also been associated with side effects such as memory loss and muscle problems.

But for ketamine, the only side effect recorded was transient dissociation — a feeling of being outside the body — at the time of treatment.

ECT has been the gold standard for treating the condition for decades, said psychiatrist Dr Amit Anand who led the study, but is also controversial because of its side effects.

Dr. Anand and others said in the paper, “Ketamine was not inferior to ECT as a therapy for treatment-resistant major depression without psychosis.”

Dr. Murat Altinay, a psychiatrist at the Cleveland Clinic who was also involved in the study, added: “For the ever-growing number of patients who are unresponsive to conventional psychiatric treatment and require higher levels of care, ECT remains the most effective treatment. . treatment in treatment-resistant depression.

“This study shows us that intravenous ketamine was non-inferior to ECT for the treatment of non-psychotic treatment-resistant depression and can be considered an appropriate alternative treatment for the condition.”

Experts not involved in the study called the results “of great importance” and said it highlighted a potential new treatment for patients with depression.

Dr. Rupert McShane, a psychiatrist at the University of Oxford in the UK, said: ‘Ketamine is at least as good as ECT and causes less memory loss. This trial in people whose depression was so bad they needed ECT is unequivocal.

‘What does this mean for practice?… These studies should now stimulate [hospitals] to work on developing their ECT clinics so they can offer both options.”

Dr James Stone, a psychiatrist also in the UK, said the study was ‘important because ECT is often the only option for patients with depression so severe that they endanger their lives by being unable to eat or drink.

“Intravenous ketamine could be a safer alternative.”

Limitations of the study include that patients knew whether they were receiving ketamine or ECT, which could have biased the results.

Ketamine lifts half of patients out of the blues after meds fail, trial finds