OBJECTIVE: Insomnia and disrupted sleep are associated with increased risk of suicide. The N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist ketamine has been associated with reduced suicidal thoughts, but the mechanism of action is unknown. This study sought to evaluate differences in nocturnal wakefulness in depressed individuals who did and did not have an antisuicidal response to ketamine.
METHODS: Thirty-four participants with baseline suicidal ideation diagnosed with either DSM-IV major depressive disorder (n = 23) or bipolar depression (n = 11) between 2006 and 2013 completed nighttime electroencephalography (EEG) the night before and the night after a single ketamine infusion (0.5 mg/kg over 40 minutes). Suicidal ideation was assessed at baseline and the morning after ketamine infusion via several measures, including the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale suicide item, the suicide item of the Montgomery-Asberg Depression Rating Scale, and the first 5 items of the Scale for Suicide Ideation. A generalized linear mixed model evaluated differences in nocturnal wakefulness, as verified by EEG, between those who had an antisuicidal response to ketamine and those who did not, controlling for baseline nocturnal wakefulness. Results were also compared to the sleep of healthy controls (n = 22).
RESULTS: After analyses adjusted for baseline sleep, participants with an antisuicidal response to ketamine showed significantly reduced nocturnal wakefulness the night after ketamine infusion compared to those without an antisuicidal response (F₁,₂₂ = 5.04, P = .04). Level of nocturnal wakefulness after antisuicidal response to ketamine did not differ significantly from nocturnal wakefulness in the control sample but did differ at a trend level (F₁,₄₀ = 3.15, P = .08).
CONCLUSIONS: Reductions in wakefulness following ketamine may point to a biological mechanism underlying the effect of ketamine on suicidal ideation.
Vande Voort, J. L., Ballard, E. D., Luckenbaugh, D. A., Bernert, R. A., Richards, E. M., Niciu, M. J., … & Zarate, C. A. (2016). Antisuicidal response following ketamine infusion is associated with decreased nighttime wakefulness in major depressive disorder and bipolar disorder. Journal of clinical psychiatry. 10.4088/JCP.15m10440
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