At-home sublingual ketamine therapy has shown to be a safe and effective treatment for anxiety and depression, according to a recent, large-scale study.
The researchers studied a cohort of 1247 outpatients who received ketamine therapy over the course of 4 weeks through a telehealth provider, keeping note of the patients’ demographics, adverse events, and patient-reported dissociation for analysis.
Using the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) for depression and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder scale (GAD-7) for anxiety, the researchers found that 62.8% of patients reported a 50% or greater improvement on the PHQ-9 (d = 1.61) and 62.9% on the GAD-7 (d = 1.56). Adverse effects of the treatment were reported by fewer than 5% of patients. Remission rates were 32.6% for PHQ-9 and 31.3% for GAD-7.
After the study’s completion, the researchers noted 3 patient subpopulation groups, categorized as: (1) improvement (79.3%); (2) chronic (11.4%), and (3) delayed improvement (9.3%). Over the course of the study, 4 patients left treatment early due to side effects or clinician disqualification, and 2 patients left due to adverse events.
With psychosocial support and remote monitoring through telehealth platforms, the researchers’ aim for the study was to break access barriers, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The combination of strong and rapid effects with very small numbers of adverse events suggest that at-home sublingual ketamine therapy is an important avenue for overcoming long-standing barriers to depression and anxiety treatment, safely and conveniently,” the researchers concluded. “Evaluating the durability of these effects will be important for future research.”
Hull TD, Malgaroli M, Gazzaley A, et al. At-home, sublingual ketamine telehealth is a safe and effective treatment for moderate to severe anxiety and depression: findings from a large, prospective, open-label effectiveness trial. J. Affect. Disord. 2022;314:59-67. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2022.07.004