Ketamine as a Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa: A Narrative Review

This review (2021) explores the use of ketamine to treat Anorexia Nervosa (AN). The ability of ketamine to induce neuroplasticity, neurogenesis and synaptogenesis is discussed in relation to AN. Furthermore, the known antidepressant effects of ketamine may be beneficial to people with AN as depression is often experienced comorbidly.


“Anorexia nervosa (AN) is a highly complex disorder to treat, especially in severe and enduring cases. Whilst the precise aetiology of the disorder is uncertain, malnutrition and weight loss can contribute to reductions in grey and white matter of the brain, impairments in neuroplasticity and neurogenesis and difficulties with cognitive flexibility, memory and learning. Depression is highly comorbid in AN and may be a barrier to recovery. However, traditional antidepressants are often ineffective in alleviating depressive symptoms in underweight patients with AN. There is an urgent need for new treatment approaches for AN. This review gives a conceptual overview for the treatment of AN with ketamine. Ketamine has rapid antidepressant effects, which are hypothesised to occur via increases in glutamate, with sequelae including increased neuroplasticity, neurogenesis and synaptogenesis. This article provides an overview of the use of ketamine for common psychiatric comorbidities of AN and discusses particular safety concerns and side effects. Potential avenues for future research and specific methodological considerations are explored. Overall, there appears to be ample theoretical background, via several potential mechanisms, that warrant the exploration of ketamine as a treatment for adults with AN.”

Authors: Johanna L. Keeler, Janet Treasure, Mario F. Juruena, Carol Kan & Hubertus

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Ketamine as a Treatment for Anorexia Nervosa: A Narrative Review

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Published in
November 20, 2021
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Study details

Compounds studied

Topics studied
Eating Disorders

Study characteristics
Literature Review

0 Humans


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King's College London
KCL is home to the Psychedleic Trials Group.