A drug called ketamine can be a boon for those with suicidal tendencies by bringing down depression levels rapidly, a preliminary study has revealed.

Treatment of depression can take weeks to produce positive results, which is inadequate for those contemplating suicide.

However, in early trials, intravenous (IV) ketamine, previously used as an anaesthetic, has brought down depression levels rapidly.

Ketamine cuts down suicidal thoughts when patients were assessed 24 hours after a single infusion. This reduction in suicidal tendencies was maintained when patients received repeated doses over the next two weeks.

Study co-author Rebecca Price, psychiatrist, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said: “If these findings hold up in larger samples of high-risk suicidal patients, IV ketamine could prove an attractive treatment option in situations that might endanger a patient’s life”.

Since this was a preliminary study in a small group of depressed patients, further research is needed to replicate these results.

However, the findings are promising and could result in improved treatment for suicidal patients in the future.

These findings were published in the September issue of Biological Psychiatry.

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