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The journal of ECT

Rapid antidepressant effect of ketamine in the electroconvulsive therapy setting.


PMID 22847373

Abstract

Studies now provide strong evidence that the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonist ketamine possesses rapidly acting antidepressant properties. This study aimed to determine if a low dose of ketamine could be used to expedite and augment the antidepressant effects of electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatments in patients experiencing a severe depressive episode. Subjects with major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder referred for ECT treatment of a major depressive episode were randomized to receive thiopental alone or thiopental plus ketamine (0.5 mg/kg) for anesthesia before each ECT session. The Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) was administered at baseline and at 24 to 72 hours after the first and sixth ECT sessions. Electroconvulsive therapy exerted a significant antidepressant effect in both groups (F2,24 = 14.35, P < 0.001). However, there was no significant group effect or group-by-time interaction on HDRS scores. In addition, post hoc analyses of the time effect on HDRS showed no significant HDRS reduction after the first ECT session for either group. The results of this pilot study suggest that ketamine, at a dose of 0.5 mg/kg, given just before ECT, did not enhance the antidepressant effect of ECT. Interestingly, the results further suggest that the coadministration of ketamine with a barbiturate anesthetic and ECT may attenuate the immediate antidepressant effects of the N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist.

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