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.


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.

Important FDA Safety Information

Ketamine is not FDA-approved for the treatment of depression or anxiety. Learn more about off-label uses here.

Side effects of ketamine treatment may include: altered sense of time, anxiety, blurred vision, diminished ability to see/hear/feel, dry mouth, elevated blood pressure or heart rate, elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure, excitability, loss of appetite, mental confusion, nausea/vomiting, nystagmus (rapid eye movements), restlessness, slurred speech, synesthesia (a mingling of the senses).

Do not proceed with ketamine treatment if any of the following apply to you:

  • Allergic to ketamine
  • Symptoms of psychosis or mania
  • Uncontrolled high blood pressure
  • CHF or other serious heart problem
  • Severe breathing problem
  • History of elevated intraocular or intracranial pressure
  • History of hyperthyroidism
  • Other serious medical illness
  • Pregnant, nursing, or trying to become pregnant

Ketamine has been reported to produce issues including, but not limited to, those listed below. However, lasting adverse side-effects are rare when medical protocols are carefully followed.

While ketamine has not been shown to be physically addictive, it has been shown to cause moderate psychological dependency in some recreational users.

  • In rare cases, frequent, heavy users have reported increased frequency of urination, urinary incontinence, pain urinating, passing blood in the urine, or reduced bladder size
  • Ketamine may worsen problems in people with schizophrenia, severe personality disorders, or other serious mental disorders.
  • Users with a personal or family history of psychosis should be cautious using any psychoactive substance, including ketamine, and discuss potential risks with your MindBloom® clinician before proceeding with treatment.
  • The dissociative effects of ketamine may increase patient vulnerability and the risk of accidents.

To promote positive outcomes and ensure safety, follow these ketamine treatment guidelines:

  • Do not operate a vehicle (e.g., car, motorcycle, bicycle) or heavy machinery following treatment until you’ve had a full night of sleep
  • Refrain from taking benzodiazepines or stimulants for 24 hours prior to treatment
  • Continue to take antihypertensive medication as prescribed
  • Avoid hangovers or alcohol intake
  • Refrain from consuming solid foods within 3 hours prior to treatment and liquids within 1 hour prior to treatment
  • Ketamine treatment should never be conducted without a monitor present to ensure your safety

Take Control of Your Mental Health

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