Study leader Michael Grunebaum said that many suicidal patients have a ‘critical window’ where they require ‘rapid relief to prevent self-harm’.
Grunebaum said, ‘Currently, there is no such treatment for rapid relief of suicidal thoughts in depressed patients.’
Previous research has shown the drug has a powerful effect on depression, with half of patients treated with ketamine found that their depression symptoms had disappeared – even six months later.
The researchers gave two groups of depressed patients with suicidal thoughts either ketamine or the tranquilliser midazolam, then measured their levels of suicidal thoughts 24 hours later.
The group that had been given ketamine showed a ‘clinically significant’ reduction in suicidal thoughts, the researchers say. The researchers said that the ketamine group showed improvements in overall mood, reduced depression and fatigue, according to News Medical Express.
Could ketamine offer alcoholics hope for a cure – by making them forget the ‘cues’ that make them reach for the bottle?
Psychologists at University College London are testing the idea of using a dose of the drug to help drinkers reduce their intake.
Researcher Ravi Das told the Guardian, ‘There is evidence that it could be useful as a treatment for alcoholism.
The drug disrupts the formation of memories – and that could offer a way to get rid of ‘triggers’ which make alcoholics drink again. Das says, ‘Memories that you form can be hijacked by drugs in some people. If you were an alcoholic you might have a strong memory of being in a certain place and wanting to drink.
‘Those memories get continuously triggered by things in the environment that you can’t avoid. ‘People can successfully quit using over the short term while they’re being monitored in the hospital … but when they return home they’re exposed to those environmental triggers again.’