Antidepressant response within hours? Experts weigh evidence on ketamine as fast-acting treatment for depression

Recent studies suggest that ketamine, a widely used anesthetic agent, could offer a wholly new approach to treating severe depression — producing an antidepressant response in hours rather than weeks. Two reviews of recent evidence on ketamine and related drugs for treating depression appear in theĀ Harvard Review of Psychiatry, published by Wolters Kluwer.

Ketamine and related drugs may represent a “paradigm shift” in the treatment of major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar depression — especially in patients who do not respond to other treatments, according to a review by Carlos A. Zarate, Jr, MD and colleagues at the National Institute of Mental Health. A second article explores evidence on the mechanisms behind ketamine’s rapid antidepressant effects.

 

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