Ketamine therapy is becoming more popular as it continues to show effectiveness in treating a variety of mental health conditions, including treatment-resistant major depression. While many are on the fence about this type of treatment, recent results from a clinical trial have shown that ketamine treatment may be the new gold standard in treating major depression. Prior to this trial, many thought electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) treatment was the best option for major depression. With new findings coming in, the results are quickly shifting to ketamine treatment.

Trial Details

This open-label trial consisted of 403 randomized patients who were diagnosed with nonpsychotic treatment-resistant major depression. Each participant in this trial was recruited from some of the top clinical centers in the US to ensure a valid sample. Participants of the trial were recruited at one of these five trial sites:

  • Baylor College of Medicine in Houston
  • Johns Hopkins Medical Institute in Baltimore
  • Cleveland Clinic Lutheran Hospital
  • Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City
  • Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut

This trial lasted three weeks. During the trial, ketamine patients were treated twice a week using an IV. Each ketamine patient was given a subanesthetic dose of 0.5 mg per kg of weight for 40 minutes. This was modified as needed to maintain sufficient sedation.

On the other hand, ECT patients received three treatment sessions weekly. The electric pulse given during ECT was brief and specified as a right unilateral treatment. The strength of the ECT treatment was six times the seizure threshold determined during the participant’s first visit. However, the treatment was modified as needed.

Trial Results

Nearly 93% of the treatment groups completed the clinical trial. That said, after the 3-week trial, 55.4% of patients in the ketamine group had a major depression treatment response compared to 41.2% in the ECT group. This means the ketamine group was more likely to experience a significant decrease in major depression symptoms. 

Furthermore, after the trial, patients were followed-up with for six months. During the first follow-up month, only 19% of the ketamine treatment group had their depression return compared to 35.4% of the ECT treatment group. By month six, 34.5% of ketamine patients had their depression relapse, while 56.3% of the ECT patients had their depression return.

Ketamine to Treat Depression: Why It May Be a Better Choice Than ECT

The above results suggest that ketamine may be a better option than ECT for treatment resistant major depression(TRMD), making ketamine treatment the new gold standard of care for TRMD. This is because it showed a higher response rate and longer-lasting effects than ECT. However, this isn’t the only reason ketamine may be more beneficial than ECT. The following are additional benefits of ketamine therapy:

Lower Risks Associated With Anesthesia

ECT requires general anesthesia for each session, which carries inherent risks such as allergic reactions, nausea, hypothermia, and in rare cases, death. Ketamine treatment, while administered under medical supervision, does not require general anesthesia, reducing the potential risks associated with its use.

Fewer Potential Side Effects

Ketamine therapy stands out as a treatment option for major depression due to its comparatively fewer side effects. Unlike ECT, which can result in cognitive impairments such as memory loss and confusion, ketamine therapy generally preserves cognitive function. Furthermore, ECT may lead to physical discomforts like headaches and muscle pain, while ketamine infusion is typically well-tolerated. With a shorter treatment course and minimal recovery time compared to ECT, ketamine therapy offers individuals a treatment option with a more favorable side effect profile.

Treat Depression with Ketamine Therapy at New Horizon Ketamine Clinics

If you or a loved one are struggling with major depression, it’s time to take charge of your mental health and consider seeking treatment at New Horizon Infusion Clinics. Our dedicated team will guide you through your journey, providing support, compassion, and evidence-based ketamine treatment for major depression. Take the first step toward a brighter future by contacting New Horizon today.