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Ketamine nasal spray can fight depression, suicidal thoughts

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Washington: A novel nasal spray of ketamine - often misused as a party drug - can rapidly treat symptoms of major depression, and suicidal thoughts, a study has found.

The study, published in The American Journal of Psychiatry, compared an intranasal formulation of esketamine, part of the ketamine molecule, to a placebo for rapid treatment of symptoms of major depression, including suicidality, among individuals at imminent suicide risk.

The researchers at the Yale School of Medicine in the US involved 68 participants randomly assigned to one of two groups - either receiving esketamine or placebo twice a week for four weeks alongside standard treatment with antidepressants.

They looked at effects at four hours after first treatment, at 24 hours and at 25 days.

Researchers, including those from Janssen Research and Development, found a significant improvement in depression scores and decreased suicidal ideation in the esketamine group compared to the placebo group at four hours and at 24 hours.

The esketamine effects were not greater than the placebo at 25 days. The measurement of suicide risk took into consideration both the patient's and clinician's perspectives.

The results of the study support nasal spray esketamine as a possible effective rapid treatment for depressive symptoms in patients assessed to be at imminent risk for suicide, researchers said.

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