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Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2017 Mar;21(1):2-12. doi: 10.1080/13651501.2016.1254802. Epub 2017 Jan 18.

Administration of ketamine for unipolar and bipolar depression.

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a Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy , Medical University of Vienna , Vienna , Austria.
b Department of Adult Psychiatry , Poznan University of Medical Sciences , Poznan , Poland.

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  • Erratum. [Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2017]



Clinical trials demonstrated that ketamine exhibits rapid antidepressant efficacy when administered in subanaesthetic dosages. We reviewed currently available literature investigating efficacy, response rates and safety profile.


Twelve studies investigating unipolar, seven on bipolar depression were included after search in medline, scopus and web of science.


Randomized, placebo-controlled or open-label trials reported antidepressant response rates after 24 h on primary outcome measures at 61%. The average reduction of Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAM-D) was 10.9 points, Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) 15.7 points and Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS) 20.8 points. Ketamine was always superior to placebo. Most common side effects were dizziness, blurred vision, restlessness, nausea/vomiting and headache, which were all reversible. Relapse rates ranged between 60% and 92%. To provide best practice-based information to patients, a consent-form for application and modification in local language is included.


Ketamine constitutes a novel, rapid and efficacious treatment option for patients suffering from treatment resistant depression and exhibits rapid and significant anti-suicidal effects. New administration routes might serve as alternative to intravenous regimes for potential usage in outpatient settings. However, long-term side effects are not known and short duration of antidepressant response need ways to prolong ketamine's efficacy.


Ketamine; NMDA-receptor; depression; glutamate; rapid antidepressant

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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