Despite ketamine first gaining a bad reputation as a club drug, known as Special K, during the 1980s, the dissociative anesthetic has now become a viable treatment option for people with treatment-resistant depression (TRD).
Although, a new study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that some patients have a higher chance of gaining rapid, significant benefits from ketamine compared to others.
Most of the participating patients did experience benefits from the drug. But, approximately one-third showed substantial results– experiencing “rapid improvement” of depression symptoms.
And according to the researchers, distinct patient characteristics may be able to predict the level of relief prior to drug prescription.
“Severely depressed individuals with a history of childhood trauma may have a better likelihood of a rapid and robust response to ketamine,” explained Brittany O’Brien, the study’s lead researcher.
This new research included nearly 300 patients, with an average age of 40, who were diagnosed with major depression.
The patient pool was also mostly made up of men, but all study participants had not responded to at least two different antidepressants in the past.
Every patient was treated using three infusions of ketamine, which took place at an outpatient clinic. Then, the researchers identified three different response patterns.
One group of study participants was suffering from severe depression prior to the treatment; then, they experienced significant, rapid improvement.