Study authors even believe "treating serious mental illness may reduce adverse outcomes related to COVID-19."
The COVID-19 pandemic has, undoubtedly, changed the way we live in this world. It has not only impacted global physical health, but social isolation and perpetual disconnection have exacerbated the mental health crisis. It now seems more vital than ever to explore and apply groundbreaking ways to improve treat mental health.
A new study has sought to do just this, finding that ketamine remains an effective treatment for individuals with depression, when applied during the coronavirus pandemic. This only further cements the potential of the psychedelic substance to improve lives around the world.
The study, published in Psychiatry Research, compared the effectiveness of four intravenous ketamine infusions between two groups. The two groups included 107 adult patients who received the treatment during the coronavirus pandemic (from March 2020 to February 2021), and 160 control patients, who received the infusions a year prior, outside of the coronavirus pandemic. All patients had treatment-resistant depression, meaning that their illness had not previously responded to an average of eight courses of antidepressants.
The researchers found very little difference in the reduction of symptoms between the two groups. That is, patients receiving ketamine treatment during the coronavirus pandemic showed the same improvement in their depression as the control patients. These improvements were fast-acting and significant in both groups, further establishing the groundbreaking effectiveness of ketamine therapy for patients that desperately need it.
These findings demonstrate the potent antidepressant effects of ketamine therapy during an overwhelmingly stressful time. Covid-19 lockdowns cause social isolation, loneliness, and enhance anxiety, which may have disrupted the antidepressant effects of ketamine. However, the findings showed that this was not the case – patients receiving the treatment during the pandemic saw major improvements in their mental health, exemplifying the powerful effects that ketamine therapy can have.
The authors further contextualize the importance of these findings, as patients with serious mental health issues are more susceptible to contracting coronavirus, and are at a higher risk of experiencing worse outcomes of the virus if they do contract it. The researchers highlight that using ketamine to rapidly treat depression may alleviate the physical impact of contracting coronavirus, arguing, “…treating serious mental illness may reduce adverse outcomes related to COVID-19 in this population [with treatment-resistant depression].”