This work may not be copied, distributed, displayed, published, reproduced, transmitted, modified, posted, sold, licensed, or used for commercial purposes. By downloading this file, you are agreeing to the publisher’s Terms & Conditions.

Original Research

Effects of Low-Dose Ketamine Infusion on the Positive and Negative Domains of Hopelessness and Suicidal Thoughts

Wei-Chen Lin, MD; Mu-Hong Chen, MD, PhD; Tung-Ping Su, MD; Cheng-Ta Li, MD, PhD; Hui-Ju Wu, BSN; Shih-Jen Tsai, MD; Ya-Mei Bai, MD PhD; Wei-Chung Mao, MD, PhD; and Pei-Chi Tu, MD PhD

Published: July 8, 2024


Background: Low-dose ketamine infusion has been demonstrated to exert antisuicidal effects on patients with treatment-resistant depression (TRD) and strong suicidal ideation. Although evidence suggests an association between hopelessness and suicidality, very few studies have investigated the antihopelessness effects of ketamine.

Methods: This study included 84 patients with TRD and strong suicidal ideation. The diagnosis of depression was based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, diagnostic criteria for major depressive disorder. They were randomly assigned to receive a single infusion of either 0.5 mg/kg ketamine or 0.045 mg/kg midazolam. Hopelessness and suicidal symptoms were assessed at baseline, at 240 minutes postinfusion, and on Days 2, 3, 7, and 14 postinfusion. The assessments were performed using the self-report Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) and Positive and Negative Suicide Ideation Inventory (PANSI). The analysis focused on the positive and negative domains of the BHS and PANSI, respectively. The clinical trial was conducted between August 15, 2018, and November 30, 2021.

Results: Statistical analyses performed using a generalized linear model revealed that the ketamine group had significantly higher PANSI-positive (P = .008) and lower PANSI-negative (P = .015) suicidal ideation scores on Day 2 postinfusion than did the midazolam group. At 240 minutes postinfusion, the ketamine group had significantly lower BHS-negative domain scores than did the midazolam group (P = .031). Notably, the observed ketamine-induced reduction in hopelessness at 240 minutes postinfusion was associated with its antisuicidal effect on Day 2 postinfusion.

Discussion: A single infusion of low-dose ketamine resulted in a brief (∼4 hours) yet significant reduction in hopelessness. Subjective antisuicidal effects of ketamine were noted on Day 2 postinfusion. Further studies are needed to elucidate the neuromechanisms underlying the antihopelessness and antisuicidal effects of ketamine.

Trial Registration: UMIN Clinical Trials Registry identifiers: UMIN000033916 and UMIN000033760

J Clin Psychiatry 2024;85(3):24m15257

Author affiliations are listed at the end of this article.

Volume: 85

Quick Links:

Continue Reading…

Subscribe to read the entire article


Buy this Article as a PDF