Ketamine proves effective against depression

Scientists have sought to find out the mechanisms of action of this treatment in people who are not helped by traditional antidepressants.

On October 5, the CNRS published a press release in which it recalled in the preamble that one in three people affected by depression does not answer “not the most commonly prescribed antidepressants”.

The ketamine, a molecule synthesized in the 1960s for veterinary use but diverted for psychedelic purposes, has certainly already demonstrated positive effects on resistant depressions. But its mechanisms of action are still shrouded in mystery.

Negative beliefs, a symptom of depression

Scientists from Inserm, the Brain Institute and CNRS wanted to analyze a very specific symptom of the disease, and it is the estimation of the occurrence of negative events in the lives of depressives.

An observational study which made it possible to determine that 4 hours after taking the treatment, the patients presented with a reinforced cognitive bias. Their optimism was heightened, and they became more sensitive to information that contradicted these negative beliefs.

A core belief system

Liane Schmidt, neuroscience researcher at Inserm, summarized to Liberation:

Patients with depression are locked into negative beliefs about themselves, the future and the world. This cognitive triad at the heart of the disease is resistant to more positive suggestions that contradict them.

However, an optimistic cognitive bias is essential for good mental health, because it blocks the effects of negative information.

Ketamine and psychotherapy?

The Inserm specialist adds: “This cognitive effect could be a clinical response for people with severe depression and/or for those at imminent risk”.

These results, published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry, open new therapeutic avenues in the management of mood disorders resistant to antidepressants. By associating this molecule with psychotherapy, rapid stabilization of the depressed person could be achieved. Additional research will be conducted in the course of 2023 to confirm this hope.

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