Final Thoughts on Ketamine for Major Depressive Disorder

August 26, 2020

J. John Mann, MD, discusses potential next steps for further assessment of ketamine's antidepressant effects.

In the last segment of our interview, J. John Mann, Professor of Translational Neuroscience, Columbia University, offered HCPLive® his final thoughts and reflections on what has currently been discovered about ketamine’s antidepressant effects and where research can go next.

Specifically, he focused on the potential for better understanding treatment in patients with high suicidal ideation, a higher risk group within the major depressive disorder population.

In a previous randomized, clinical-controlled trial he and his colleagues conducted, they found that combining ketamine with other antidepressants had a profound effect on depressed patients with high suicidal ideation.

Although they uncovered a clear relationship among ketamine use, glutamate suppression, and antidepressant effect in their most recent study, Mann explained that they intentionally excluded patients with suicidal ideation or who have made suicidal attempts.

“We excluded those patients because we didn’t want to try this kind of medication at that time in those kinds of patients.”

Future studies, however, could reproduce their methods with that population.

He suggested that one could assess whether the biomarker glutamate level has any association with the anti-suicidal effect.

Furthermore, even though their recent findings showed that GABA level was not linked to ketamine’s antidepressant effect, Mann said the neurotransmitter could still be assessed for association with the mitigation of suicidal ideation.