Ketamine SQ Effective for Treatment-Resistant Depression: A Clinical Trial

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A clinical trial conducted by researchers from UNSW Sydney has discovered that ketamine given as a subcutaneous shot effectively treats treatment-resistant depression. The findings, published in the journal the British Journal of Psychiatry, demonstrate that ketamine surpassed placebo in significantly reducing depressive symptoms.

The trial involved 200 patients who had not responded to at least two other types of antidepressant medication. They were randomly assigned to receive either weekly doses of ketamine or a placebo for four weeks. The results revealed that 20% of the patients who received ketamine experienced complete remission of their clinical depression after four weeks, in contrast to only 2% of those who received the placebo.

Ketamine subcutaneously injected may be a more affordable treatment compared with IV ketamine infusion.

The researchers have future plans to conduct a larger trial in order to further explore the effectiveness of ketamine for treating individuals with treatment-resistant depression. Additionally, they are actively engaged in developing alternative delivery methods for ketamine, including nasal sprays and lozenges. These innovations aim to enhance accessibility and availability of the treatment for patients requiring it.

The findings of this trial bring a positive development for the millions of people worldwide who endure treatment-resistant depression. Ketamine offers newfound hope to these patients, marking a significant stride towards discovering effective treatments for this debilitating condition.

On the other hand, a review of controlled trials in Lancet Psychiatry 2018, suggests that there may have been some underreporting of adverse effects, particularly long term adverse effects, of ketamine.


University of New South Wales. (2023, July 14). Ketamine effective for treatment-resistant depression, study suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 22, 2023 from

Colleen Loo, Nick Glozier, David Barton, Bernhard T. Baune, Natalie T. Mills, Paul Fitzgerald, Paul Glue, Shanthi Sarma, Veronica Galvez-Ortiz, Dusan Hadzi-Pavlovic, Angelo Alonzo, Vanessa Dong, Donel Martin, Stevan Nikolin, Philip B. Mitchell, Michael Berk, Gregory Carter, Maree Hackett, John Leyden, Sean Hood, Andrew A. Somogyi, Kyle Lapidus, Elizabeth Stratton, Kirsten Gainsford, Deepak Garg, Nicollette L. R. Thornton, Célia Fourrier, Karyn Richardson, Demi Rozakis, Anish Scaria, Cathrine Mihalopoulos, Mary Lou Chatterton, William M. McDonald, Philip Boyce, Paul E. Holtzheimer, F. Andrew Kozel, Patricio Riva-Posse, Anthony Rodgers. Efficacy and safety of a 4-week course of repeated subcutaneous ketamine injections for treatment-resistant depression (KADS study): randomised double-blind active-controlled trialThe British Journal of Psychiatry, 2023; 1 DOI: 10.1192/bjp.2023.79

Short B, Fong J, Galvez V, Shelker W, Loo CK. Side-effects associated with ketamine use in depression: a systematic review. Lancet Psychiatry. 2018 Jan;5(1):65-78. doi: 10.1016/S2215-0366(17)30272-9. Epub 2017 Jul 27. PMID: 28757132.

Loo, C., Glozier, N., Barton, D., Baune, B., Mills, N., Fitzgerald, P., . . . Rodgers, A. (2023). Efficacy and safety of a 4-week course of repeated subcutaneous ketamine injections for treatment-resistant depression (KADS study): Randomised double-blind active-controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry, 1-9. doi:10.1192/bjp.2023.79