Ketamine Helping Teens With Treatment-Resistant Depression

A recent study published in the Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology showed that the average score on the Children’s Depression Rating Scale dropped by 42.5% following low-dose IV ketamine infusions among teenagers with treatment-resistant depression.

The medical community has long been hesitant to embrace the use of ketamine in treating mental disorders due to its popularity as a party drug. Lately, more doctors have seen its benefits in treating depression, leading to studies exploring the use of ketamine in treating adults with treatment-resistant depression.

Adolescence is a key time for the emergence of depression and represents a crucial window for intervention. Despite this, there hasn’t been much exploration of the use of ketamine in treating teens, even with teen suicide on the rise.

Teenagers ages 12-18 were to have six ketamine IV infusions over the course of 2 weeks. Thirteen teenagers completed the clinical trial. The average Children’s Depression Ration Scale dropped by 42.5%.

The ketamine infusions were well tolerated by the teens. Researchers found that participants who received higher doses due to their higher BMI had better results. Researchers note that this clinical trial was on a small scale. And that a larger scale, double-blind, random control study would need to be done. However, the results were promising showing that doctors should be looking into this treatment method.

Important questions still remain, such as optimal dose, patient selection, and long-term safety. Before ketamine should be available as an option for teenagers with treatment-resistant depression these questions need answers. But, this study shows a promising future for the use of ketamine in helping reduce adolescent depression and suicidal behavior.

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