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Gen Hosp Psychiatry. 2015 Mar-Apr;37(2):178-84. doi: 10.1016/j.genhosppsych.2015.01.003. Epub 2015 Jan 15.

Ketamine as a novel treatment for major depressive disorder and bipolar depression: a systematic review and quantitative meta-analysis.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD.



Given the significant disability, morbidity and mortality associated with depression, the promising recent trials of ketamine highlight a novel intervention. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the efficacy of ketamine in comparison with placebo for the reduction of depressive symptoms in patients who meet criteria for a major depressive episode.


Two electronic databases were searched in September 2013 for English-language studies that were randomized placebo-controlled trials of ketamine treatment for patients with major depressive disorder or bipolar depression and utilized a standardized rating scale. Studies including participants receiving electroconvulsive therapy and adolescent/child participants were excluded. Five studies were included in the quantitative meta-analysis.


The quantitative meta-analysis showed that ketamine significantly reduced depressive symptoms. The overall effect size at day 1 was large and statistically significant with an overall standardized mean difference of 1.01 (95% confidence interval 0.69-1.34) (P<.001), with the effects sustained at 7 days postinfusion. The heterogeneity of the studies was low and not statistically significant, and the funnel plot showed no publication bias.


The large and statistically significant effect of ketamine on depressive symptoms supports a promising, new and effective pharmacotherapy with rapid onset, high efficacy and good tolerability.


Depression; Ketamine; Meta-analysis; Therapy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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