Ketamine shows promise as treatment for adolescents with depression

Ketamine, an anesthetic, has been shown to curb depressive symptoms in youth who do not respond to traditional interventions, new evidence suggests.

Ketamine, an anesthetic, has been shown to curb depressive symptoms in youth who do not respond to traditional interventions, new evidence suggests. Researchers at the Mayo Clinic, working with collaborators at the University of Minnesota, studied a small group of patients aged 12–18 years who did not get relief from two previous antidepressant regimens. Participants received half a dozen ketamine infusions over the course of 14 days. Clinical response and remission were achieved in 5 of the 13 patients, and Children's Depression Rating Scale scores for the group as a whole declined 42% on average. Moreover, 3 of the 5 patients remained in remission after 6 weeks. The investigators say the results, published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology, offer hope for ketamine as a potential treatment for adolescents with treatment-resistant depression (TRD). Recent studies have demonstrated the drug's efficacy among adults, but little was known until now about the effect in younger patients. "I think our results show promise for this population, however this study is just a beginning," said Mark Roback, a pediatrics professor at the University of Minnesota. "The study serves to point out the need for further, rigorous, study designed to answer the many questions that remain about ketamine for TRD, such as optimal dosing and route of administration, dosing interval and treatment length, and long-term effects—just to name a few."