According to a recent small study, one dose of ketamine, a drug for mood disorders and severe depression, not only reduces the severity of depression in suicidal people, but also makes them feel safer and less likely to harm themselves.
To come to this conclusion the study observed 78 depressed participants with suicidal thoughts for a period of 5 years. After receiving only one standard dose of ketamine infusion, some of the participants had a rapid improvement of suicidal thoughts (within 24 hours) that continued up to 6 weeks! Partially this improvement was related to improvement in cognition, namely in problem-solving and thinking more clearly. This improvement was seen even when some of the participants did not show comparable improvement in depressive symptoms.
The researchers explained that ketamine influences a release of glutamate that regulates much of the nervous system and helps the brain rewire itself by creating new connections. In this way the drug can improve the thinking and other cognitive abilities of the suicidal people, diminishing their suicidal thoughts.
It is worth mentioning that ketamine was given along with other antidepressants that were tailored to the needs of each specific participant.
Why ketamine didn’t have the same effect on all participants and what are the consequences of repeated long-term use of ketamine are questions for further investigation.
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