Health & Lifestyle U.S.

Are Repeated Doses of Ketamine for depression harmful?

Long-Term use of Ketamine for Depression a World-first review into using Ketamine as a treatment for depression, whether it’s safe or not if used for a longer period of time.

Are Repeated Doses of Ketamine for depression harmful? July 28, 2017Leave a comment


The review study examined all previously published studies by researchers from UNSW Sydney and Black Dog Institute.

This study finds few existing studies effectively reporting whether repeated doses of ketamine is safe or not.

UNSW Professor Colleen Loo is Ketamine research leader. She is currently working at the Black Dog institute, explained that there are three huge gaps in the published studies that should be addressed before ketamine is adopted by general public as a treatment for depression.

Professor Loo who is a co-author of the study says

“Despite growing interest in ketamine as an antidepressant, and some preliminary findings suggesting its rapid-acting efficacy, to date this has not been effectively explored over the long term and after repeated dosing,”

“As ketamine treatment will likely involve multiple and repeated doses over an extended time period, it is crucial to determine whether the potential side effects outweigh the benefits to ensure it is safe for this purpose.”

Earlier this week the review followed research and it provided initial evidence of quite promising findings for ketamine administered to elderly patients via IV in repeated doses.

Throughout the world, Ketamine is becoming increasingly popular and being used off-label to treat severe and depression that is resistant to other treatments.

Ketamine is known by the party drug name ‘Special K’. it is not approved to be used in Australia. It is although approved by Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) as an anaesthetic.

The researched sought in the study whether Ketamine is effective in curing depression and what are the possible side-effects. It also studies whether these side effects appear after single or repeated doses.

The analysis of 288 articles was done, only 60 studies met the standard for inclusion in the study. There were 899 patients who received the dose of Ketamine.

Despite severe side effects usually occurring after just a single dose of Ketamine, not everyone who was given the dose exhibited the side effect. Not all the studies actively monitored though.

If Ketamine was given through IV side effects were more likely to be significant. The side effects were usually reported on immediately following just a single dose.

The side-effects reported included headache, dissociation, high blood pressure, blurred vision and dizziness.These persistent side effects were reported in existing user groups, those who took the drug for recreational purpose or who were prescribed Ketamine to cure chronic pain.

the authors stated

“Despite low ketamine doses currently being used in depression studies, urological toxicity, liver function abnormalities, negative cognitive affects and risk of dependency may limit the safe use of ketamine as a long-term antidepressant treatment,”

Previously conducted studies showed that long-term Ketamine usage leading to bladder inflammation, liver damage, memory loss and addiction or craving.

Professor Loo stated

“Our study also raises questions over the risk of administering ketamine in patients with pre-existing or co-morbid medical conditions, such as those with a history of high blood pressure or heart disease,”

“For instance, we know that when used to treat chronic pain, ketamine is associated with acute blood pressure changes, and experts recommend lower doses administered through slower-acting, non-intravenous means accordingly.”

The research team are now evolving a new instrument to standardise future reporting on these side effects, called the Ketamine Side Effect Tool (K-SET) and Ketamine Safety Screening Tool (KSST), to address inconsistencies in the literature.


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