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Ketamine improved bipolar depression within minutes
Date:5/30/2012

Philadelphia, PA, May 30, 2012 Bipolar disorder is a serious and debilitating condition where individuals experience severe swings in mood between mania and depression. The episodes of low or elevated mood can last days or months, and the risk of suicide is high.

Antidepressants are commonly prescribed to treat or prevent the depressive episodes, but they are not universally effective. Many patients still continue to experience periods of depression even while being treated, and many patients must try several different types of antidepressants before finding one that works for them. In addition, it may take several weeks of treatment before a patient begins to feel relief from the drug's effects.

For these reasons, better treatments for depression are desperately needed. A new study in Biological Psychiatry this week confirms that scientists may have found one in a drug called ketamine.

A group of researchers at the National Institute of Mental Health, led by Dr. Carlos Zarate, previously found that a single dose of ketamine produced rapid antidepressant effects in depressed patients with bipolar disorder. They have now replicated that finding in an independent group of depressed patients, also with bipolar disorder. Replication is an important component of the scientific method, as it helps ensure that the initial finding wasn't accidental and can be repeated.

In this new study, they administered a single dose of ketamine and a single dose of placebo to a group of patients on two different days, two weeks apart. The patients were then carefully monitored and repeatedly completed ratings to 'score' their depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts.

When the patients received ketamine, their depression symptoms significantly improved within 40 minutes, and remained improved over 3 days. Overall, 79% of the patients improved with ketamine, but 0% reported improvement when they received placebo.

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Contact: Rhiannon Bugno
biol.psych@utsouthwestern.edu
214-648-0880
Elsevier
Source:Eurekalert

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