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J Psychopharmacol. 2018 Oct;32(10):1110-1117. doi: 10.1177/0269881118793104. Epub 2018 Sep 5.

Rapid effectiveness of intravenous ketamine for ultraresistant depression in a clinical setting and evidence for baseline anhedonia and bipolarity as clinical predictors of effectiveness.

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1 Neurochemical Research Unit, Department of Psychiatry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.
2 Neuroscience and Mental Health Institute, University of Alberta, Edmonton, Canada.



Intravenous ketamine has been established as an efficacious and safe treatment, with transient effect, for treatment-resistant depression. However, the effectiveness of intravenous ketamine in non-research settings and with ultraresistant depression patients remains understudied.


This study aims to measure the response and remission rates in ultraresistant depression patients in a clinical setting by means of a retrospective, open label, database study. Secondarily, the study will attempt to support previous findings of clinical predictors of effectiveness with intravenous ketamine treatment.


Fifty patients with ultraresistant depression were treated between May 2015-December 2016, inclusive, in two community hospitals in Edmonton using six ketamine infusions of 0.5 mg/kg over 40 min over 2-3 weeks. Data were collected retrospectively from inpatient and outpatient charts. Statistical analysis to investigate clinical predictors of effectiveness included logistic regression analysis using a dependent variable of a 50% reduction in rating scale score at any point during treatment.


At baseline, the average treatment resistance was severe, with a Maudsley Staging Method score of 12.1 out of 15, 90.0% were resistant to electroconvulsive therapy, and the average Beck Depression Inventory score was 34.2. The response rate was 44% and remission rate was 16%. As a single predictor, moderate or severe anhedonia at baseline predicted a 55% increased likelihood of response. As a combined predictor, this level of anhedonia at baseline with a diagnosis of bipolar depression predicted a 73% increase in likelihood of response.


In a clinical setting, intravenous ketamine showed effectiveness in a complex, severely treatment-resistant, depressed population on multiple medication profiles concurrently. This study gave support to anhedonia and bipolar depression as clinical predictors of effectiveness.


Ketamine; intravenous; predictors; suicide; treatment-resistant depression; ultraresistant depression


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