HealthDay News — A single, low-dose ketamine infusion is relatively free of side effects for patients with treatment-resistant depression, according to research recently published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Elia E. Acevedo-Diaz, MD, from the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland, and colleagues comprehensively assessed side effects associated with a one-time infusion of a subanesthetic dose (0.5 mg/kg) of ketamine. The analysis included pooled data from 188 participants in 4 placebo-controlled, crossover ketamine trials and 1 open-label study (163 patients with either treatment-resistant major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder and 25 healthy controls).

The researchers found that 44 of 120 side effects occurred in at least 5% of participants across all trials. The majority of the side effects (33 of 44) were significantly associated with active drug administration vs placebo. Feeling strange, weird, or loopy were the most common side effects. The peak for most side effects occurred within an hour of ketamine administration and resolved completely by 2 hours after infusion. There were no serious drug-related adverse events reported or increased ketamine craving/abuse after administration.

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“The results indicate that a single intravenous subanesthetic-dose ketamine infusion was relatively safe for the treatment of treatment-resistant depression,” the authors write.

One author is listed as a co-inventor on a patent for the use of ketamine in major depression and suicidal ideation.

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