Two small scale studies found that 70 percent of patients with bipolar disorder, an illness characterised by extreme highs and lows, responded positively to the drug, with the effects lasting for a minimum of three days.
The antidepressants which are commonly used today are mood stabilisers and antipsychotics, both of which are effective in many cases (70 percent) but both of which take time to begin taking working. Ketamine however, has been found to exhibit similar results in very little time.
One study in particular which was conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health saw the results of ketamine within minutes. The study involved giving 18 patients who had been suffering from bipolar for 18 years, intravenous infusions of the drug.
In just 40 minutes their symptoms had notably improved compared to those in the group that received placebo infusions. The 71 percent of patients who did experience positive results also reported the improvements lasting for around one week on average.
Dr Deenesh Koosal, spokesperson for bipolar disorder at the Royal College of Psychiatrists has commented on the fact that so far the studies have only been conducted using a small number of participants and a trial of a much larger scale is needed to confirm the results of previous studies.
The University Hospital in Geneva are already conducting a larger scale trial which is looking at the use of the drug for depression.
‘Larger trials are under way. If these results are confirmed, it will offer great hope for people with depression.’ says Koosal.