Depression is a debilitating condition than can affect every aspect of a person’s life. It’s characterised by depressed mood or a loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily activities.

Many older people struggle with depression, and one of the challenges is that many do not receive the help and support they need.

Possible causes include a combination of biological, psychological and social sources of distress. Depression can also be particularly triggered by a drastic life change – the loss of a spouse or moving into aged care.

When it is diagnosed, there are a number of different options in terms of treatment. Non-pharmaceutical treatments include cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT), interpersonal therapy and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy.

Pharmaceutical therapies, such as antidepressants, are often used when non-pharmaceutical therapies are ineffective.

Could Ketamine Be A Solution?

A new Australian research shows that Ketamine may potentially have some beneficial effects in older people with severe depression.

Ketamine was traditionally used in pain relief and in association anesthesia by inducing a trance like state – but more recently it is circulated as a party drug also known as “Special K”.  

The University of New South Wales and Black Dog Institute study showed some early evidence that Ketamine, when delivered in repeated intravenous doses, had similar effects to an antidepressant.

Depression has been shown to cause brain cells to shrink and become less effective. Ketamine, researchers believe, help to reverse this and work to support the brain cells.

Tested in different doses, Ketamine was used on 16 participants all over the age of 60. Results showed that it was “well-tolerated” by participants who were administered their dosage via a small injection under the skin, making it a safe and effective way administering the drug.

Published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, one of the authors Duncan Georges said elderly patients with severe depression faced “additional barriers when seeking treatment for the condition”.

“Older people are also more likely to have co-morbidities like neurodegenerative disorders and chronic pain, which can cause further complications due to ketamine’s reported side effects”

“Our results indicate a dose-titration method may be particularly useful for older patients, as the best dose was selected for each individual person to maximise ketamine’s benefits while minimising its adverse side effects.”

There are only five previous studies looking into Ketamine as a treatment for depression, which have previously shown mixed results.

Though there have been some positive short-term results in treating depression, there is yet to be any evidence of the long-term effects of taking Ketamine for an extended period of time.

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Disclaimer: Please be aware the above article is merely information – not advice. If users need medical advice, they should consult a doctor or other healthcare professional.

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