Ketamine therapy shown to be effective in treating depression in veterans, study finds
Ketamine could be a viable treatment for veterans struggling with depression, new research has suggested.
The University of Michigan released a study on the effects of ketamine in cases of severe or treatment-resistant depression among veterans.
Half of the study participants experienced significant relief after undergoing six weeks of ketamine therapy, according to a press release from Michigan Medicine.
Marine vets benefit from psychedelic-assisted PTSD drugs as FDA considers MDMA approval
The study, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, looked at data from 215 veterans receiving intravenous ketamine therapy at Veterans Affairs (VA) hospitals.
All participants had also undergone previous depression treatment without any improvement.
Nearly half of the patients saw a “significant drop” in depression scores after six weeks of intake, according to a study by the University of Michigan and VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS).
About 25% saw their depression score drop by half within six weeks of treatment, and 15% went into complete remission despite the complexity of their mental health status.
Vet who lost military ‘brothers’ to suicide after war calls for urgent change: ‘We could do better’
Almost all patients studied continued their treatment every few weeks or months.
“Further study is needed to determine the optimal infusion frequency and the potential for adverse effects with repeated ketamine injections for depression,” the study’s findings said.
In a statement sent to Fox News Digital, VA press secretary Terrence Hayes supported ketamine therapy as an option for veterans.
“VA supports the evidence-based use of intravenous ketamine for treatment-resistant depression and severe suicidal ideation,” he said.
Military mental health in focus as AI trains real conversations to help prevent veteran suicide
“Many veterans with these mental health conditions are treated with IV ketamine each year — both at VA facilities and by community providers.”
Dr. Justin Gerstner, a psychiatrist and chief medical officer at Ellie Mental Health in Minnesota, told Fox News Digital that he thinks these findings on ketamine are “fantastic,” because the VA population “needs on new, innovative treatments for depression.”
(Gerstner was not involved in the Michigan study.)
“This study shows that this helps some of the most difficult-to-treat veterans with depression,” he said.
As more psychedelic-assisted treatments emerge to treat a variety of mental health issues, the doctor said ketamine is among those that produce results “very quickly.”
Crying party submits to a test by our navy to detect bio-flags: ‘HIGHLY SENSITIVE’
Another benefit of ketamine therapy, according to Gerstner, is that it eliminates the need for patients to take medication every day, as with other treatment methods.
Gerstner said he uses ketamine therapy in his own practice, where the response from clients has been “good.”
“It’s been very transformative for a lot of our clients,” he told Fox News Digital. “It’s been a great experience to be a part of that.”
Gerstner’s practice typically administers ketamine to clients via IV injection in two- to three-hour sessions, in conjunction with pre- and post-treatment psychotherapy.
Potential risks and limitations
While ketamine can act as “a very powerful anti-depressant and anti-suicide drug,” Gerstner said, he cautioned that “it’s not the right answer for everyone or everything. “
“This is a very powerful medicine and the way it is used can make a big difference.”
There are some risks and limitations involved, he said – including the potential for ketamine to be abused.
There isn’t much regulation of how ketamine treatments are administered, Gerstner noted, because the drug was previously approved for anesthetic use.
Click here to sign up for our health newsletter
“The area is wide open, and it’s a bit like the Wild West,” he said. “This is a very powerful medicine and the way it is used can make a big difference.”
Different clinics have had success giving the drug in different forms, including oral, IV and injection, according to Gerstner.
For patients with treatment-resistant depression, a standard IV system is given every two to three days in a hospital-based outpatient clinic, according to Michigan Medicine and VAAAHS.
“These things are really all over the map,” Gerstner said. “It’s difficult to manage and there’s some risk involved, but it’s also what we have to do while we learn what’s best.”
Click here to get the FOX NEWS app
For veterans seeking better treatment, ketamine could be a “very important thing to consider for depression,” Gerstner said.
“If they’re suffering from depression and feel like they’re not getting what they need, and they haven’t talked about ketamine, it’s okay to ask. [their provider] about,” he said.
Fox News Digital reached out to the University of Michigan for additional comment on the investigation.
For more Health articles, visit foxnews.com.com/health.