The VA May Begin Using Ketamine for Suicidal Patients

The Veterans Affairs (VA) is looking into using ketamine for high-risk suicide patients. A pair of programs is currently underway at a VA medical center in Cleveland with the goal of determining whether low-dose ketamine infusions can help patients with treatment-resistant depression and be used to help those with a high risk of suicide.

How Ketamine Helps with Depression

Ketamine has been proven to quickly and effectively treat those with suicidal thoughts and behaviors. More doctors are using it to help those struggling with suicide and treatment-resistant depression. Traditional antidepressants can take weeks or months to begin working, time that some individuals don’t have.

“If you look at their depression ratings and suicidal ratings right before treatment and even four hours later, you can see a significant reduction, and I think that’s really quite remarkable. It’s quite rapid when you compare it to traditional medication for depression. And when it comes to suicidality, there’s no other medication that is demonstrating such a rapid effect,” stated Dr. Punit Vaidya the person leading the ketamine project for the VA.

Veterans account for close to 20% of all suicides in the US. When these individuals arrive in the ER, they’re in high imminent danger of harming themselves. Right now, there isn’t a drug to treat that other than ketamine.

The program is still undergoing testing for treatment-resistant depression patients. But the second project will look to see if ketamine can work as a short-term emergency measure to stabilize a suicidal patient.

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The VA May Begin Using Ketamine for Suicidal Patients

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