Ketamine has ‘truly remarkable’ effect on depression and is effective in elderly patients, scientists say.

After six months, 43% of the subjects said they had no significant symptoms of depression.

Ketamine can have a “truly remarkable” effect on people with depression, researchers have said after a new study showed promising results among elderly patients.

Colleen Loo, a professor at the University of New South Wales in Australia, led the world’s first randomised control trial into the drug’s effect on people over 60 with treatment-resistant depression.

“This trial has shown ketamine can be used safely in the elderly and it tends to be effective,” she told The Independent, adding that a similar effect was observed in this age group as in younger patients.

It is important to test how people of different ages respond to a new treatment before it can be offered by doctors, she said: “Sometimes depression in the elderly can be harder to treat, especially with medication.

“Also, they tend to have more medical problems, which can interfere with medication.”

Ketamine was discovered in 1962 and is licenced for medical use in the UK as an anaesthetic, but is also used illegally as a recreational drug.

Of the study’s 16 participants, 11 reported an improvement in their condition while being treated with the drug, according to the research published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

After six months, 43 per cent of the subjects said they had no significant symptoms of depression – a high rate given that the participants had not responded to previous treatment, said Professor Loo.

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