Ketamine for chronic depression: two cautionary tales

Ketamine for chronic depression: two cautionary tales

J Psychiatry Neurosci 2019;44(6):384-385 | PDF

Jeanne Talbot, MD, PhD; Jennifer L. Phillips, PhD; Pierre Blier, MD, PhD

A growing body of literature has shown the effectiveness of ketamine for treating chronic depression. How long the beneficial effects of repeated ketamine last once infusions are stopped, however, remains largely unknown. Understanding the challenges that ensue after ketamine cessation can help clinicians optimally guide patients who opt for ketamine treatment and minimize the associated risks. In this commentary, we discuss some unexpected data gathered from participants of a pilot study on the effects of adjunctive ketamine infusion for resistant depression.


Submitted April 5, 2019; Revised June 12, 2019; Accepted June 14, 2019; Published online Oct. 1, 2019

Affiliations: From the The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, Mood Disorders Research Unit, Ottawa, Ont. (Talbot, Phillips, Blier); and the Department of Psychiatry, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ont. (Talbot, Phillips, Blier).

Competing interests: P. Blier declares receiving honoraria from Janssen for participating on its advisory board, giving lectures and preparing educational material. He is also the site principal investigator for esketamine trials (Janssen). J. Talbot and J. Phillips declare no competing interests.

Contributors: All authors contributed substantially to the conception, writing and revision of this article; approved the final version for publication; and can certify that no other individuals not listed as authors have made substantial contributions to the paper.

DOI: 10.1503/cjs.190073

Correspondence to: P. Blier, Mood Disorders Research Unit, The Royal’s Institute of Mental Health Research, 1145 Carling Ave., Ottawa, ON K1Z 7K4; Pierre.Blier@theroyal.ca