Ketamine Study Shows Rapid Relief in Patients with Suicidal Ideation

Medically reviewed by 
Mindbloom Review Board
Published on 
July 17, 2022
Updated on 

In the last few years, studies have focused on the potential relief ketamine can bring to those challenged with mental health conditions like treatment-resistant major depressive disorder (MDD), and their symptoms. 

Now, a French clinical trial suggests that ketamine might bring provide quick —but short term— relief to those with suicidal ideation, though more research is needed.

The double blind, randomized placebo controlled trial surveyed 156 participants who had some form of mental illness such as MDD, bipolar disorder (BPD), or another mental health diagnosis. 

Patients were 18 years or older, experienced current suicidal ideation, and had been admitted to hospital voluntarily. Participants were given two 40-minute intravenous doses of ketamine. 

In six out of 10 patients, suicidal thoughs quickly diminished, some within a day. By the third day of the trial, 63 percent of participants were in full remission, versus just under 32 percent of patients who were given a placebo along with standard treatment. 

When it came to tolerance of ketamine, three quarters of patients had no side effects, and side effects that were experienced were minor and short lived.

However, the findings showed that the effects of ketamine on suicidal ideation were short-term, showing results persisting six week in two thirds of the patients.  

The study, which was published in the BMJ, also concluded that comorbid mental disorders appear to be important moderators, and an analgesic effect on mental pain might explain the anti-suicidal effects of ketamine.

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This article is for informational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of any treatment. If you are in a life-threatening situation, call the National Suicide Prevention Line at +1 (800) 273-8255, call 911, or go to the nearest emergency room.

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