Continuation phase intravenous ketamine in adults with treatment-resistant depression

Jennifer L. Vande Voort, Robert J. Morgan, Simon Kung, Keith G. Rasmussen, Jose Rico, Brian A. Palmer, Kathryn M. Schak, Susannah J. Tye, Matthew J. Ritter, Mark A. Frye, William V. Bobo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background Little is known about the antidepressive effects of repeated intravenous ketamine infusions beyond the acute phase of treatment in patients with refractory depression. Methods Twelve subjects with treatment-resistant non-psychotic unipolar or bipolar major depression and suicidal ideation were given repeated (up to 6) thrice-weekly acute-phase intravenous infusions of ketamine (0.5 mg/kg, administered over 100 min). Those who remitted during acute-phase treatment received continuation-phase treatment that consisted of 4 weekly ketamine infusions, followed by 4 weeks of post-continuation phase follow-up (during which no further ketamine infusions were administered). Clinical measures were assessed at baseline, at 24 h following each infusion, at the last acute-phase observation, and during continuation and post-continuation follow-up (acute phase remitters only). Results Of the 12 enrollees, 5 (41.7%) remitted and 7 (58.3%) responded to ketamine treatment during the acute-phase. All five subjects who remitted during the acute-phase experienced further depressive symptom improvement during continuation-phase treatment. Four subjects lost remission status during the post-continuation phase, but all were still classified as positive treatment responders at the end of the post-continuation phase. Adverse effects were generally mild and transient during acute- and continuation-phase treatment; however, one subject developed behavioral outbursts and suicide threats during follow-up while hospitalized, and one subject died by suicide several weeks after the end of follow-up. Limitations This was an uncontrolled feasibility study with a small sample size. Conclusions The continuation-phase administration of ketamine at weekly intervals to patients with treatment-resistant depression who remitted during acute-phase ketamine treatment can extend the duration of depressive symptom remission. The antidepressive effect of ketamine persisted for several weeks after the end of continuation-phase treatment. Our results highlight the need for close monitoring of subjects who are at high baseline risk for suicide but do not respond clinically to ketamine. identifier NCT02094898.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)300-304
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
StatePublished - Dec 1 2016


  • Bipolar depression
  • Continuation
  • Depression
  • Ketamine
  • Major depression
  • Repeated
  • Treatment resistant

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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