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The use of ketamine as an antidepressant: a systematic review and meta-analysis

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Abstract

Objective

The current meta-analysis examines the effects of ketamine infusion on depressive symptoms over time in major depressive disorder (MDD) and bipolar disorder (BD).

Methods

Following a systematic review of the literature, data were extracted from 21 studies (n  = 437 receiving ketamine) and analysed at four post-infusion time points (4 h, 24 h, 7 days and 12–14 days). The moderating effects of several factors were assessed including: repeat/single infusion, diagnosis, open-label/participant-blind infusion, pre–post/placebo-controlled design and the sex of patients.

Results

Effect sizes were significantly larger for repeat than single infusion at 4 h, 24 h and 7 days. For single infusion studies, effect sizes were large and significant at 4 h, 24 h and 7 days. The percentage of males was a predictor of antidepressant response at 7 days. Effect sizes for open-label and participant-blind infusions were not significantly different at any time point.

Conclusions

Single ketamine infusions elicit a significant antidepressant effect from 4 h to 7 days; the small number of studies at 12–14 days post infusion failed to reach significance. Results suggest a discrepancy in peak response time depending upon primary diagnosis — 24 h for MDD and 7 days for BD. The majority of published studies have used pre–post comparison; further placebo-controlled studies would help to clarify the effect of ketamine over time.

Coyle, C. M., & Laws, K. R. (2015). The use of ketamine as an antidepressant: a systematic review and meta‐analysis. Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental, 30(3), 152-163. https://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hup.2475
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