Club drug ketamine was formed as an anesthetic; however, a recent study by a team of researchers at the Janssen Research and Development has found that spray ketamine can help people experiencing suicidal thoughts. The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, highlighted that in addition to coming to people’s rescue when given intravenously, the drug can also be effective when administered in the form of a special nasal spray called esketamine.
Effects visible in as quick as four hours
According to Dr. Carla Canuso, a psychiatrist at Janssen parent company Johnson & Johnson, during the entire period of the study, all the patients were provided comprehensive care, including counseling and antidepressants. The patients were divided into two groups with an equal number of patients; while one group was given the nasal spray, the other group was given a saline placebo. This was done to be sure of the effects of the nasal spray, she confirmed. The patients were administered esketamine spray or placebo twice a week for four weeks in addition to routine treatment. The period chosen was deliberate as standard antidepressants are known to show their effects in the same period of time.
Elucidating further, Carla confirmed that a third of suicidal patients felt much better after four hours of being given the ketamine spray. “The goal of treatment would be to have treatment that works rapidly but also bridges the gap to the time that a standard antidepressant works,” she expressed while talking about the research findings.
Ketamine has a huge potential for abuse
While the study re-established the fact that ketamine is a promising drug for treating acute, severe depression, it also highlighted that the drug’s high potential for abuse cannot be neglected. As one of the drawbacks, side effects like a bad taste in the mouth, nausea and dissociated feelings were reported as a result of the spray use even though they reduced and faded away eventually. “The failure to demonstrate longer-term benefits raises questions about the risk versus the benefit of long-term use,” said Dr. Robert Freedman, who edits the American Journal of Psychiatry, while supporting the need for better control and use of the spray.
The other major thing of worry is the drug’s potential to be misused. Acknowledging that aspect, Janssen spokesman Greg Panico announced that the drug will not be distributed in pharmacies or allowed to be taken home by patients. He supported the same by mentioning that esketamine is not yet approved for use to treat suicide by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Until that happens, he confirmed that all authorities and research teams involved will be careful with the use of the spray.
As evident, the use of ketamine spray for treatment would work the best in situations where quick action is required. However, the clinicians should monitor the effects and the potential of the spray with time. Moreover, the federal bodies and regulating authorities too should be vigilant.
Depression and suicidal thoughts are treatable
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 8 percent of children aged 12 and above and adults have depression. Moreover, suicide has become one of the leading causes of death over the last few years. While researchers continue to find better ways to treat people who have depression and suicidal thoughts, it is necessary that we continue to do our bit by spreading awareness and encouraging people with mental health issues to seek treatment at the earliest possible. It is with combined efforts of each one of us that thousands of lives can be saved, sooner or later.
If you or your loved one are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact Sovereign Health’s treatment centers for suicidal ideation. Call us on our 24/7 helpline 866-973-7164 or chat online with our treatment advisors for more details about suicidal ideation treatment programs in your vicinity.